The Villages sees a voter-fraud outbreak — with a MAGA twist – The Washington Post

Residents live in “villages,” housing developments that are connected by both roads and — accommodating a more frequent form of transportation — golf-cart paths. There are three town centers (with a fourth under development), spaces meant to replicate small towns complete with fictional backstories. So you’ll have a building that features weathered (and fake) text indicating that it used to be, say, a newspaper’s office, that is actually home to one of those midrange jewelry shops that are popular in touristy areas. You’ll have some big house that was purportedly the residence of some fictional founder of the fictional town that is now a Medicare assistance center.

This, of course, is what voter fraud usually looks like: isolated examples of individuals casting more than one ballot. For all of former president Donald Trump’s sweeping allegations of rampant fraud mechanisms at play in myriad states to benefit Democrats, there’s not only no evidence that such conspiracies were undertaken but what we do know about the scattershot incidents in which illegal votes may have been cast suggests that it’s a bipartisan problem. In the modern political era, there are only rare examples of systematic efforts to swing elections with incidents of fraud far more often being a function of what appears to have happened in Florida.

If you think about it, the Villages reflects a very Trumpian aesthetic. “Make America great again,” after all, is a slogan meant to evoke a sense of what the country used to be even if it never actually was that. The creators of the Villages literally made that idealized America, over and over again. The Villages is to a community what Trumpism is to politics: an appeal to what was and an excoriation of what is.

It’s also interesting that the Villages achieves this idyllic community through very careful, top-down management. The Villages’s shared spaces are a careful construct maintained by the umbrella corporation. Its Villages-specific newspaper is owned by the Villages Operating Company, as is the local radio station that’s piped throughout the town centers. (News for that station is provided by a syndicated Fox feed.) Re-creating Cold War-era Americana ironically requires heavy central planning.

The result? A heavily Republican (Sumter County went for Trump by a 2-to-1 margin in 2020) community coddled by Republican politicians in which primacy is placed on an idealized America of the sort that Trump promised to restore. A community where numerous residents were no doubt sympathetic to Trump’s campaign pitch and to his claims that the Democrats were cheating — and who had residences and voter registrations in multiple states.

Voter fraud is rare, and there’s no indication that anything systematic was at play at the Villages. Except, of course, for a systematic sense of isolation against a changing America and a systematic attempt to convince voters aggrieved in that way to ensure that Trump earned another four years in office.