An election that was a win for democracy

If Mark Twain were here to comment on last week’s midterm election, he might write, “Reports of the death of democracy are greatly exaggerated.”

Two years of attacks on the integrity of the fundamental element of a democratic republic—the right of citizens to vote for their representatives in government—instilled doubt about the future of the American democracy among both those who believed election fraud was rampant and those who feared the conspiracy theories alleging fraudulent voting would result in restrictions on the right to vote.

Yet in the Nov. 8 election for congressional, state and local office holders, a larger percentage of voting-age Americans than ever before in a midterm election exercised their voting right.

The strongly held opinions manifested in the current political polarization surely contributed to the record turnout, but it is fair to say it was also driven by citizens asserting their belief in democracy and making a statement: This is my right and I’m exercising it; don’t mess with it.

With some 150 million votes to process, the election was a massive enterprise. Once again, election clerks and officials in every state managed it with few glitches and no evidence of fraudulent voting and vote counting affecting outcomes.

Here in Ozaukee County, County Clerk Julianne Winkelhorst and municipal clerks, as usual, ran a smooth election, processing the votes of amazing turnout of 81% of eligible voters.

Many of the poll workers across the country who made the election possible had been targets of verbal abuse and even death threats from extremists in the thrall of the myth that fraudulent voting caused Donald Trump to lose the last presidential election by nearly 4 million votes.

This time around, election deniers were relatively quiet. An exception was the former president who continues his quest to convince his most devoted followers that he was a victim of illegal voting for Joe Biden. As votes were being counted last week, Trump told supporters at a MAGA rally that voting fraud was the reason his endorsed candidates were falling behind in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona. The assertion was quickly proven untrue in all three states. Nationally, voters expressed their opinion of election integrity by voting against election denier candidates. In every battleground state, election deniers running to be the top election official were defeated.

In Wisconsin, the scene of some of the most bitter controversy over alleged irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, not a peep of voter fraud rhetoric was heard, not even from Michael Gableman, the former state Supreme Court justice who admitted he didn’t know how elections worked and then spent a year and more than a million taxpayer dollars trying and failing to prove Trump did not lose in Wisconsin.

The outcome of the Wisconsin midterm election itself was an affirmation of voting fairness, with a Republican re-elected as U.S. senator and a Democrat re-elected as governor.

As reassuring as the election was, however, there is still reason to be on guard against threats to voting rights. That was made clear in several states where vigilantes showed up at ballot dropbox sites wearing tactical gear and carrying AR-15 style rifles with the obvious intent of intimidating voters.

Nonetheless, the success of this election stands as a refutation of the bogus claims that widespread voting corruption exists and a reminder of the essential role of the civil servants, whether in rural hamlets, vast metropolises or the thousands of communities in between, who do the basic work of democracy—the election workers.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

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