Why are so many Iowa Republicans refusing to condemn Trump’s unfounded accusations that this election is corrupt and a rigged system? If Trump attacks the validity of the election, couldn’t these Republicans’ reelection be questioned as well?
There’s nothing more sacred to America’s democratic traditions than free and fair elections. Anyone who values our democratic electoral process should be willing to speak up and defend the legitimacy of our elections. Our election system is held up to the world as a model of democratic participation. That’s why Trump shocked the world with his refusal to agree to accept the results of the “rigged” election. He intentionally whipped up fear and suspicion among his supporters by questioning the sanctity of the vote. By pointing fingers at immigrants and dead voters he has created questions among his supporters about a fair vote. Calling it a corrupt and rigged system Trump has ripped the very fabric of trust that binds our democratic institutions together.
Charging that there is a vast conspiracy to upend the election is an act of desperation. As he plunges in the national polls, he is willing to torpedo the Democratic process rather than take responsibility for his actions. He claims there are 1.8 million dead voters on the election rolls and then makes the ridiculous jump to claiming, “It’s a rigged system.” He suggests that dead folks’ names on the election lists proves election fraud. He seems to think that by raising the issue of dead voters he can generate suspicion among his supporters. If he loses, he can then blame the dead voters for throwing the election to Clinton. He has also made unfounded claims that non-citizens voting will throw the election. Trump’s use of these absurd and unfounded charges of election fraud is unprecedented.
Trump’s preposterous claims and charges of a rigged election system should be condemned by every American regardless of party. Some Republicans like Paul Ryan have criticized Trump for his rigged election charges. Ryan confirmed he has full confidence in the validity of election results.
In Iowa, Republican Secretary of State and Election Commissioner Paul Pate said this in defense of Iowa elections: “This state has a pretty darn good track record and I really resent anybody trying to blemish it…They’re not demonstrating there’s any proof in these issues. What they’re doing is trying to distract, in my opinion, from what the real election issues are. Voting is far too important.”
Jamie Fitzgerald, the Polk County Auditor, defended the election process as well. The Auditor’s Office has 3-4 employees overseeing the voting at each polling site. He emphasized that there is additional oversight at every polling place by representatives of both political parties. On the issue of dead voters, he said those names are removed quickly. In Polk County, voters that die are removed from the rolls at least once a month in ongoing maintenance. Both Pate and Fitzgerald noted that Iowa uses paper ballots leaving a paper trail that provides an additional check on recounts. In addition, the actual voting machines aren’t connected to the internet so they can’t be hacked. Fitzgerald guaranteed that each machine is checked and rechecked with over 20,000 sample ballots run through them prior to the elections.
Iowa had a thorough investigation of voter fraud conducted by former Republican Secretary of State Schultz in 2012. He spent $250,000 over two years attempting to find illegal voting or the use of dead voters’ names. Schultz found no cases in which dead voters names were used and only a small number of voters that voted by mistake. These errors involved felons who thought their rights had been restored and other unintentional misunderstandings by voters about their rights to participate.
At last Monday’s news conference, Governor Branstad said he agrees with Trump that there are efforts to cheat the system and that national media organizations are colluding with Clinton. Branstad even indicated that he thought media bias and voter fraud are one in the same. Branstad can’t even defend our basic Democratic principles.
Why is Governor Branstad and others dismissing their own Secretary of State? Why have Grassley and Branstad lost their voices in condemning Trump’s attacks on Democracy? Have they lost touch with the Iowa values that demand the defense of our American political system? Grassley has benefited from over 50 years of Iowa’s voters decisions by reelecting him through that political process. Does he agree with Trump now, that his election has been a big fraud? Tell Governor Branstad and others to find his voice and stand up for the integrity of our elections.
by Rick Smith