My Turn: How you can help prevent an American election crisis

For the Monitor
Published: 3/22/2019 12:10:14 AM

Americans may soon lose one of the most fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution: the right to vote in fair and transparent elections and expect those election results to be validated as honest.

The right to vote and the ability to exercise that right are being contested in state legislatures and courts across America. Voter suppression attempts are gaining supporters in legislatures. Some state legislatures are attempting to institute nefarious poll taxes disguised as “voter ID,” instituting discriminative domicile restrictions, gerrymandering voting districts, using antiquated and suspect voting machines with no paper backups and allowing questionable absentee ballots to be counted. These contribute to an atmosphere of voter suppression.

When the dominant political party in some state legislatures can’t win a political agenda with ideas and persuasion, they will often resort to voter intimidation to enact controversial legislation.

If this is not enough to question the veracity of some elections, we could soon discover that the results of the 2020 presidential election may be contested by the loser of that election on grounds that it was an illegitimate election. The loser may claim that the system was rigged, biased and fraudulent. It could make “hanging chads” look like child’s play. The loser may refuse to concede or accept the results of that election. It could end up in another tumultuous Supreme Court decision.

This can be avoided by educating citizens on the importance and responsibilities of voting.

In some countries, voting is mandatory. It is a criminal offense not to vote. This illustrates how seriously the right to vote is taken in countries that may have had histories of tyrannical despots and police and military governments.

I am not an alarmist. The results of the next federal election may be fair and honest. My concern is that these are not normal times. Our country is seriously politically divided. The “win at any cost” mantra is alive and growing.

Defaming important government institutions with preemptive and dangerous accusations that they are all corrupt and biased is a favorite tool of dictators and bullies all over the world.

I prefer to believe that America is better than that. The right to vote and to expect your vote to count is fundamental to what being an American citizen is all about.

If you are not registered to vote, please do so and validate that you care about America and what it stands for in a troubled world.

(Jim Baer lives in Concord.)

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