Candidates questioning the integrity of our elections are damaging our Democracy and are not fit to hold public office. The “elections integrity” platform sounds like this: stricter voter ID, decrease early voting days/hours, remove ballot drop boxes, eliminate mail-in voting, review elections results, strike legitimate voters from the rolls.
Even as he voted on the very first day of the 45-day early voting period, Del David LaRock turned around and said he supports only two weeks for early voting and a stronger ID system. You either trust the system or you don’t.
The false elections integrity narrative is based on deliberate misinformation with the intent to stoke fear and distrust. It stems from the Donald Trump Big Lie that led to a violent and deadly insurrection. It’s also an attempt to build support for restrictive policies because the GOP knows when more people vote they lose. They would rather sow doubt and distract voters with this nonsense.
Republican candidate for Governor, Glenn Youngkin, already is making noises about not accepting the 2021 results and advocated for an annual machine audit as if that’s some new idea. It’s like a sore loser’s prebuttal.
These are the facts: Virginia experienced zero cases of election fraud in 2020, according to the head of Virginia’s Department of Elections, Christopher Piper, when I recently questioned him at a Virginia Association of Counties meeting.
We shattered voter turnout records during a global pandemic in 2020 with 69% of the Virginia electorate voting early. Mail-in/absentee ballot rejection rates were drastically reduced. Virginia’s dropped from .8 to .6 percent. Already this year, Loudoun has surpassed our expected absentee requests with more than 16,000. It was expected to be 10,000 and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is more than a week away.
Virginia already runs a statewide annual machine audit. Loudoun Department of Elections Deputy Director Richard Keech confirms that the statewide audit occurred on March 14th. Loudoun’s bipartisan elections officials tested our machines on Sept. 14th and Sept. 21st in preparation for this year’s election. Both parties are represented during these tests, Keech said.
Perhaps Youngkin should check his facts before contributing to the dangerous anti-democracy message.
Our professional elections staff in Loudoun and across the state have built and manage an unquestionably secure system to help keep our Democracy strong. And they’ve done it even as the General Assembly heroically expanded voting access. To say otherwise is disqualifying and demonstrates disdain for the Democracy we are trying so hard to perfect.
Virginia is in a unique position this year as one of two states to hold statewide contests for the three highest offices in our Commonwealth. All eyes are upon us as it is the first major test of the will of the nation that defeated Trump in 2020. In extraordinary turnout (76%), Biden became the first Democratic nominee to win Chesterfield County and Lynchburg City since 1948; Virginia Beach City since 1964; James City County since 1968; and Stafford County since 1976. He also flipped Chesapeake City. Biden soundly won Loudoun with 61.5% of the vote.
Fraud accusations and ballot reviews have continually failed to find serious irregularities across the nation. But despite dozens of failed lawsuits and failed “audits,” Donald Trump and his minions continue to question the integrity of that election. Last week Trump said Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Detroit had more votes cast than registered voters, which is patently false. I can only imagine they are focusing on Pennsylvania now because the $6 million, so-called audit in Arizona was a complete failure, found no fraud, and confirmed Biden won by even more votes than originally reported.
The Trump bunch wants to replace even Republican elections officials and Governors who rightly defended their states’ elections process. Replacing elections officers and installing Trump cronies into the Governors’ mansions is a strategy to undermine elections and soften the ground to overturn the election in 2024. We saw the failed attempts in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania. We know his team pressured the Justice Department. We should have no doubt they will try again.
If we allow Trump-endorsed Youngkin to take over the Governor’s mansion, Virginia will be the first to fall into the “death spiral” as described on Face the Nation last weekend by Chris Krebs, the Republican Trump appointee and former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who was fired by Tweet when he had the audacity to defend the 2020 elections.
He said this dangerous rhetoric around elections is a constant erosion to our electoral system and threatens our Democracy.
But we can hold the line on this, Virginia, by casting our votes for the party that believes in Democracy. Not the party that wants to destroy it in the name of an aspiring dictator.
Juli E. Briskman represents the Algonkian District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.