Election officials fight Trump’s plan to undermine midterm elections

This is the height of the busy season for those running the country’s elections, with the November 8 midterm elections less than 60 days away.

There are polling places to be determined. Recruit and train election workers. Ballot papers to be corrected and mailed.

Increasingly, there is an avalanche of lies and disinformation to combat, along with an apparent attempt by Trump followers to undermine the electoral system with a deliberate campaign of sabotage.

In recent weeks, election offices across the country have been buried with requests for public records related to the 2020 vote, part of an effort led by election deniers including former President Trump’s indicted Stephen K. The case of Mike Lindell.

The requests—many of them identically worded and scissor-and-paste—should not err in an honest attempt to hold government officials accountable. Rather, it is a deceptive attempt to spoil the country’s election machinery at the worst possible moment.

Instead, the resources that must be allocated to ensure the smooth implementation of the November vote are diverted to respond to malicious mischief. (Many requests seek access to a “vote record,” which is data produced by devices such as polling scanners, in the hope of “proofing” the widely exposed idea that election machines have been tampered with.)

“Paper terror” is what Tommy Gong, the election chief for Contra Costa County in the Bay Area, called it. His office received 64 public records requests — more than the previous three years combined — though the results were not in dispute: Joe Biden beat Trump by 72% to 26%.

By law, each request requires a prompt response, providing information or a detailed explanation of what can and cannot be released because it is protected by law. This means the time and effort it takes is one of the most urgent and important responsibilities.

To be clear: There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Numerous audits, dozens of lawsuits, and Trump’s Department of Justice determined this.

There is no widespread epidemic of voter fraud. The New York Times reviewed hundreds of criminal cases going back to 2017 and found, on average, fewer than two people charged in each state per year. In a country with roughly 214 million registered voters, that’s a very small number.

To the extent that there is a crisis affecting our electoral system, it is one created in large part by Trump and his deluded henchmen, some of whom are running for office to hijack and sabotage the voting process, and others who seek to undermine its integrity through deliberate publication. lies.

A type of arson that strikes a match, then points to flames as evidence of a fire hazard.

For the past several years, the National Assn. Secretary of State worked to combat disinformation through a public awareness campaign, #TrustedInfo2022, directing voters to state websites and social media pages.

“We try to make sure that voters have a better understanding of the procedures that go into the election process” to dispel myths and build confidence in the system, said Taisha Wai, New Jersey’s Secretary of State and chair of the organization.

This does not mean validating politicians, or monitoring political discourse.

“Our efforts are focused on distributing accurate information as widely and frequently as possible about voting and registering to vote,” said Joe Kokorick, a spokesman for California Secretary of State Shirley Weber.

“We are in a new environment where there are people who are using propaganda to dissuade voters from exercising their right to franchise,” Kuchurk said. “It’s our responsibility to assist voters and help counties running elections inform voters of their voting options, timelines, eligibility requirements and all of that.”

In the Bay Area, Gong has teamed up with election officials from 11 Northern California counties to dispel misinformation and demystify the voting process by holding information sessions and inviting members of the public to watch as they prepare for the midterm polls.

“Twenty years ago, successful elections were the ones where the news didn’t come out,” Gong said. “Now we really have to put ourselves out there defending the validity of elections and the profession of election officials.”

(Devoted readers may remember Gong from a previous column as the subject of gratuitous racist attacks after he oversaw the 2020 ballot in San Luis Obispo County.)

Transparency is a good thing. The trick is not.

One small county had a trained electoral officer ready to go out in the community as part of outreach and education efforts, Gong said, but that person is now restricted from responding to malicious public records requests.

Flooding election offices with troubling papers will not guarantee the integrity of the November elections. Quite the contrary. It’s a cynical attempt to undermine the findings, so critics can then point to any loopholes to justify their false allegations of fraud and wrongdoing.

Don’t let it succeed. Make sure to vote. Act as if the future of American democracy depends on it.

Because he does.

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