Opinion

Editorial: Every vote must be counted

Every vote must be counted. Period.

It’s strange and disheartening that even needs to be said, but, unfortunately, these are the political times in which we live.

Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and a way for every American of legal age to make his or her voice heard concerning the future of our nation. Regardless of one’s political leanings, everyone’s vote has equal value and deserves to be counted. That is the American way and how elections have always worked in this country. This year should be no different.

Elections officials in Greater Cincinnati and across the nation did their best to prepare the electorate for the eventuality that the nation would not know who the next president would be on Nov. 3. Officials repeatedly stated that it could take days after Election Day to count a record number of mail-in absentee ballots. So what we are witnessing is not unexpected. Nor is it unprecedented.

Americans are accustomed to knowing who wins a presidential race because news outlets often project a winner based on data analytics even before all the votes are finalized by boards of elections. This was a modern privilege. Historically, election results have taken days or weeks to be confirmed. There’s a reason the Electoral College doesn’t meet until the second week of December.

Also, two of the last five presidential elections weren’t decided on election night. It took weeks to learn Texas Gov. George W. Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election because of the now-famous Florida recount. And Bush’s reelection bid in 2004 against Sen. John Kerry wasn’t decided on election night either.

President Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the election by making baseless accusations of fraud and calling for the vote counting to be stopped is distressing and dangerous. The president does not have the power to claim victory in states. Only the voters do. The president’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud and toxic tweets are irresponsible, inaccurate, divisive and frankly, beneath the dignity of the office he holds.

They are also dangerous. Incited by Trump’s rhetoric, some of his supporters tried to force their way inside a counting center in Detroit shouting, “stop the vote.” We’ve even seen armed protesters show up at a Maricopa County voting site in Arizona. These protests have drawn counterprotesters, creating a potentially explosive environment. This has been a highly emotional and contentious election, and rather than promoting calm, the president is sowing chaos and confusion with his comments.

We agree with the president that the integrity of our elections is paramount. The best way to protect that integrity is to count all of the votes and allow the people to have their say. Voter fraud certainly exists, but study after study finds cases are extremely rare. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, has repeatedly said that claims of voter fraud and voter suppression are grossly overstated by politicians and pundits.

Even Trump’s now-disbanded voting integrity commission uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has been studying voter fraud for years and even it’s data shows that cases of fraud, particularly with mail-in ballots, are few. In five states that have used universal vote by mail prior to 2018 (Utah, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Colorado), a total of 44 cases of voter fraud were found out in Heritage’s sampling of millions of mail-in votes.

The kind of mass fraud that the president and some on right are alleging would be impossible to execute, even in states where they mailed ballots to all registered voters.

Trying to manipulate the outcome of this election by sowing seeds of doubt about the process and filing frivolous lawsuits undermines the very integrity Trump claims to want to protect.

The American public must consider the facts, not entertain conspiracies and baseless charges. The facts are these:

Every American who cast a legal ballot should have it counted. That is what we are seeing across the country right now.

The civil servants conducting our elections have done an exceptional job in the midst of a global pandemic and intense scrutiny. They deserve our gratitude, not accusations of cheating and fraud. These are not a bunch of nameless, faceless Washington bureaucrats, they are your neighbors here in Greater Cincinnati.

If the election results in states like Ohio, which Trump won, are considered valid, why aren’t the votes in other states? Are the only valid votes the ones cast for Trump? Why would anyone want vote counting to continue in some states but be stopped in others?

Trump and Biden both have the legal right to challenge the election in court, but these suits should be based on actual violations of the law and provable irregularities, not simply because one party doesn’t like the election results. If irregularities are proven, then the proper authorities should deal with it. But so far, the president has not provided any evidence to support his claims of fraud or cheating. The courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, don’t like to decide elections that should be decided by the people. And we shouldn’t want them to either.

We understand that people want to know the outcome. Yes, the vote counting is taking longer than anyone would like. But we’ll get there and do so with accuracy.

Patience is imperative right now. So is having faith in our democracy.

–          THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply