The Spoke Editorial Board voted 15 in favor of and 3 against this editorial, with 1 person abstaining. “This is a fraud. Frankly, we did win this election.” These ten words from former President Trump kicked off a deluge of lies, violence and dysfunction. In came a steady stream of lawsuits, an insurrection and a...
The Spoke Editorial Board voted 15 in favor of and 3 against this editorial, with 1 person abstaining.
“This is a fraud. Frankly, we did win this election.”
These ten words from former President Trump kicked off a deluge of lies, violence and dysfunction. In came a steady stream of lawsuits, an insurrection and a candidate for governor that promised to hand-pick presidential electors for 2024.
Baseless attacks on mail-in ballots and voting machines are not a relic of the peak pandemic era; polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight found that 60% of Americans had an election denier on their ballot this November. According to FiveThirtyEight, an election denier is someone who directly states the election was stolen from former President Trump or has raised questions about potential widespread fraud. Mastriano was one of the most prominent election deniers in Pennsylvania, attending the Jan. 6th insurrection, and went on to win the Republican primary with a 23% lead.
Even though Mastriano lost the race for governor, more than 2 million voters cast their vote in support of him. According to Pew Research, 70% of Americans have trust in our election process, down from 81% in 2018 and a 30% partisan gap growing over the years. The fate of free and fair elections cannot be on the ballot every year.
These threats to our democracy are too dire to ignore. We must institute a law that ensures candidates agree to certified and audited election results and concede as a condition of running for office.
Claims of widespread voter fraud are blatant lies. Then-Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, and many other executive agencies upheld the integrity of our elections. It is important that candidates have platforms based in reality to address the complex and novel problems we face. Voters deserve a representative that tells the truth and does not resort to fringe conspiracy theories to further their agenda. With the inconceivable influence that the United States has globally, it is paramount we hold our representatives to the highest standards.
Starting a campaign with the explicit intention of misleading the public is bad enough, but doing it for personal gain is even worse. Kari Lake, Arizona governor candidate said, “I’m going to win, and I will accept that result” in a troubling CNN interview. Candidates running without agreeing to accept the results is nonsensical. As with every competition, there is no point if not everyone follows the rules. American elections are far from perfect, but never before have baseless claims of widespread dead voters and rogue voting machines been a mainstream critique.
The purpose of elections is to align the will of the people. Election deniers have created their own world in which they can simply declare themselves winners without being in touch with reality. Instead of reflecting on why election deniers did not represent the will of the people, they intend to flip the game board over and cry foul.
I already hear the cries: Are barriers to run not fascism? Will this not steal an avenue of recourse from maligned candidates? Firstly, binding concession does not regulate a matter of opinion. No one is choosing what thoughts are valid, but rather ensuring that the sanctity of our elections is maintained. As Tom Wheeler, former FCC chair, said on NPR, the First Amendment covers political speech on federally regulated broadcasts, even baseless allegations of voter fraud. It is no more oppressive to say you need to accept defeat than needing to be older than 25.
Additionally, candidates would still be allowed to raise legitimate legal questions about election processes. As detailed by Associated Press, the 2000 lawsuits over Florida’s elections centered on legitimately faulty ballots that had tangibly ambiguous results. The issue with the onslaught of lawsuits in 2020 was not that they were simply inquiring about fraud, but rather that they were built on a foundation of lies, deceit and desperate attempts to cling to power.
As NPR put it, the simple act of conceding is wildly powerful.When the dust settles and results are certified, the losing candidate must concede to allow for a peaceful transition of power. We can no longer assume that candidates will partake in this centuries-long tradition. This voluntary act must become compulsory to maintain the spirit of fair competition.
Thus, we should call on our legislators to ensure this becomes a commonplace qualification to run for office. Even if we cannot get legal safeguards, election denying should become a campaign-ending decision. It all starts with just one vote.
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