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Election Integrity Matters

Dear Editor, 

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” That’s a sports axiom that should have no place in politics – but does.  And it certainly seems to be central in the debate about voting laws. 

President Trump spent weeks disputing the election results, claiming his landslide victory was stolen by mail-in voter fraud, etc.  Was he really concerned about election integrity?  No, he wanted to win.  If the mail-in votes had put him over the top, he would no doubt have said 2020 was the fairest election ever. On the flip side, the Democrats seem to think acknowledging the possibility of voter fraud would somehow be a belated victory for Trump.  Indeed, they seem determined to strip away every common sense measure to prevent election fraud. CNN’s Don Lemon went as far as to say election fraud doesn’t really matter.  I completely disagree. 

Trust in elections is incredibly vital for a democracy.  I recall a headline in a war-torn Central American newspaper.  In four-inch type it blared, “There is faith in the electoral process.”  It was hugely important news for them.  As a young man, my reaction was “So?” Americans are lucky that for generations we could take for granted that our elections are largely honest and represent the will of the people.  If citizens can’t trust the outcome of democratic elections then not only is the election illegitimate but so is any government that comes to power from such an election.   

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting our recent election was stolen from Donald Trump.  It wasn’t.  But tens of millions of people believe the presidential election was tainted at least and stolen at worst.  Trump is at fault for this but so are Democratic politicians who used the pandemic as a pretense to strip away signature verifications, excessively delay mail-in deadlines, and restrict access by Republican poll watchers.  In addition, some states mailed ballots to voter rolls that included the dead, people who had moved out of state, and even pets.  (My sister’s dog got two ballots in NC.) 

Even if these irresponsible actions did not tilt the election results, they reinforced suspicions that our elections are not as fair.  That is extremely unhealthy in a democracy.  A stunning three in 10 Americans now believe political violence is acceptable to protect America from government corruption.   

The House of Representatives recently passed an egregious bill in an attempt not just improve voter access but to reduce election integrity by forcing the states to among other things allow ballot harvesting, ban voter ID laws, promote same-day voter registration. Why are they doubling down at the worst possible time?  Because in a country in which Democrats hold a razor thin majority at the Federal level, Pelosi and Biden believe changes like these will help them win more votes.  But what price victory? 

The 2005 bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker said the “electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud.”  Stripping away the guardrails of election integrity will certainly reduce public confidence.   

It is important to note that expending voter participation and ensuring the integrity of our elections are not mutually exclusive goals.  Indeed, they go hand in hand.  Election results are only legitimate when every citizen has fair access to the ballot AND the vast majority of citizens believe the election results are honest.   

Leaders in DC should be able to enact reforms that ensure voting access, further secure our election infrastructure, and increase confidence in our elections.  This really isn’t hard.  Politicians are making it hard because they love winning more than they love American ideals. 

Paul King