Voter fraud paranoia has swept over the nation. (Tom Bullock/Wikimedia Commons)
Citing a Pew Research figure showing 70% of Americans are confident in US election security, The Hill proclaimed on Tuesday, November 19, that there is “a high level of confidence in the American electoral system.”
Really? Since when is 70% a high or even mediocre value? We’re talking about elections — the lifeblood of our Democracy — not some TV show rating.
Trust in our elections is plummeting. More and more Americans see election results as tainted, if not altogether void. Across the country, scores of candidates demand recounts and retract concessions, pointing to nonexistent evidence of voter fraud.
How did this all-important system become embroiled in so much controversy?
Well, for one thing, politicians haven’t exactly helped. Sure, Trump’s antics loom large over the whole affair-the man doles out baseless allegations of fraud and rigging like candy on Halloween, and he practically asked the Russians to get involved in the 2016 election.
But it isn’t just him. Each and every time any political candidates stand up and allege voter fraud without any proof, they cast tiny shadows of doubt over that election’s legitimacy. Multiply that by thousands of elections and baseless perjury claims, and the shadow becomes a whole lot larger.
So yes, the vast majority of Americans don’t believe the candidates who cry wolf, and don’t buy into the notion that the opposing party is somehow stealing elections. But when fraud charges are being lobbed around you left and right, you can’t help but wonder.
This isn’t to say that voter fraud doesn’t occur. It does. The voting process needs to be updated. As Michael Che quipped on Saturday Night Live several weeks ago, the government keeps line-by-line records of each and every citizen’s taxes, so why is tallying slips of paper such a challenge?
Nevertheless, electoral fear-mongering still isn’t justified. Election fraud occurs (Look no further than Broward County, Florida.), but it is incredibly rare. Yet many in both parties would have you believe that it’s an offense of pandemic proportions.
Regardless of who is at fault, the fact is that the very process that facilitates political involvement has become a political tool for both parties.
That’s a problem.
If the populous distrusts the results of an election, no recount will ever be enough to assuage concern. If the election process is perceived as rigged, candidates can entirely discredit their opponents’ victories as a “stolen position,” and make it impossible for them to move forward. If the election process itself is illegitimate, then no elected officials truly have a right to their positions. If voters’ representatives constantly lament that votes are constantly being forged and erased, why would they bother voting at all?
Without trust in the electoral system, our entire governmental system slides into a game of he-said she-said where there are no real winners or losers-only illegitimate victors.
For the sake of our nation, our government must come together to shore up the voting process, emphasize its security and restore that trust.