California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s landslide victory in Tuesday’s recall election was unsurprising to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the state’s voting habits. The preliminary results also starkly rebuke former president Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated pre-election charge that the vote was rigged.

Trump, as usual, provides no evidence that anything was amiss in Tuesday’s vote. To the extent that he has any reasoning behind his farcical statement, it has to do with his oft-stated belief that widespread use of voting by mail inherently leads to voter fraud. California mailed ballots to all 22 million registered voters for the recall. If Trump’s theory were correct, there would have been significant and inexplicable changes in historic patterns as fraudsters exploited the system for their benefit.

The exact opposite is the case. With about 9.1 million votes tabulated so far, the county-level results show the same patterns that have been the case for years in California elections. Liberal counties in the Bay Area and along the coast voted heavily against the recall while rural counties in the north and east voted for it. Liberal Los Angeles was firmly against sending Newsom packing, while its less liberal suburban counties were more narrowly against the recall. This pattern recurs in every election because the state’s Republican minority is concentrated in rural areas while California’s progressives and minorities live in the urban areas.

The detailed returns show even more striking similarity to prior elections. Newsom’s best performance in his 2018 victory took place in seven Bay Area and coastal counties plus Los Angeles. The data so far show those seven northern California counties were also his best seven counties in the recall, and Los Angeles was his 10th best. Newsom’s five worst counties in 2018, all in the rural north, were also his five worst in the recall. Either election fraudsters have an incredibly sophisticated and consistent operation, or the recall election results actually represent the will of the voters.

Fraud would have been nearly impossible to pull off given the transparent access outsiders had to individual election data before the votes were ever counted. County registrars made individual voter data available each day, so people could see who specifically had returned their ballots. This allowed groups such as Political Data Inc. to publish a daily update of the state of the recall. The Political Data tracker showed down to the precinct level the party, age and race of every voter who had returned a ballot. Those who believe in the voter-fraud myth could easily have used this data to uncover fraudulently cast ballots well before they could have mattered. The fact that no such anti-fraud entity even tried to do this shows how unserious these claims are.

This doesn’t mean people should be unconcerned about the security of mail-in ballots and other ways of voting that require neither in-person presentation or voter identification to cast a ballot. Serious election experts know that fraud is much easier to commit using mailed ballots than with in-person voting. That’s one reason other countries such as Canada and Australia require those who want to vote by mail to provide proof of identification or have a witness verify that they filled out their own ballot papers. Such procedures reduce the chances of fraud, which secures the right to an honest vote for everyone.

False and unsubstantiated claims of fraud such as those made by Trump undermine that right, too. People who believe they are being cheated will lose faith in democracy and could stop voting, making their electoral defeat a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worse, some will be tempted to take power through other means. Jan. 6 was a Keystone Cops coup attempt by people who were roused by the moment rather than motivated by any type of plan. Bleeding Kansas and John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry shows what happens when desperate people believe in bullets rather than ballots.

That’s why Republican candidate Larry Elder’s election night concession is important. Unless a loser has proof they were cheated, a loser is a loser no matter what hard feelings remain. Conceding a loss is always painful, but it is a necessary part of the democratic system. Britain’s quaint habit of placing all the candidates on the same stage as the returns are read subtly reinforces the message that win or lose, all are loyal to democracy.

Californians are, alas, addicted to progressive politics. That’s why Newsom won on Tuesday. Republicans can and will win elsewhere. They should get on with that job and stop repeating Trump’s calamitous lies.