Seantor Patrick Leahy

“The Thin Red, White And Blue Line:

Thanks To The Election Workers Who Are Showing The Resilience Of Our Democracy”

By Patrick Leahy

The 2020 presidential election may be nearing an end but it is not yet over, and it will be months before we know the final results of some U.S. Senate races. But at a time of heightened divisiveness and disillusionment in our country, and in the midst of a worsening public health crisis unlike any the world has faced in more than 100 years, we should all take pride in the way that the thousands of poll workers, vote counters, and state officials have conducted themselves over these long days and nights.

We have seen the best of America, as they have carried out their responsibilities with the utmost seriousness and care. They have not been intimidated by threats or baseless claims of fraud, even from the White House podium. They have not succumbed to impatience or pressure. They have followed their procedures methodically and meticulously, day after day, hour after hour. It is the best evidence that, at its core, our democracy is strong, despite relentless attempts by some, including President Trump and members of his family, to sow division and doubt, and even to incite violence.

It is the American people, and only the people, who ultimately choose their leaders, by the simple act of voting. It is not rocket science. It requires marking a box, and, for mail-in ballots, sealing an envelope and dropping it in the mail. These procedures have been in place for decades. President Trump won in 2016 with the support of votes that were mailed in by absentee Republican voters, and in some states he won by the slimmest of margins. He voted in this election by mailing in his ballot, so it is ludicrous to impugn the integrity of others who mailed in their ballots. Each state counts those votes according to its own procedures, which vary from state to state. And that is what they are doing, as their laws require. There are multiple checks and redundancies in the processing of each ballot to minimize the chance of error. We can be proud that Vermont’s Secretary of State Jim Condos has emerged as a national leader in providing clear guidance and strong leadership in defending the right to vote.

One thing is clear: President Trump will again lose the popular vote by a decisive margin. And the reason for so many mail-in votes is obvious: the Covid pandemic.

Unlike any time in U.S. history, President Trump has called for the vote counting to stop before all the votes are counted. This is what dictators do. They stop the count when they see they are losing. Thankfully, our president does not have that power. He is not a dictator and he is not above the law. Yet he has repeatedly insisted that only “legal” ballots should be counted. What is he talking about? If he has credible evidence of illegality, or even of significant, widespread errors in the counting, why hasn’t the White House produced the evidence? If such evidence existed, they would be the first to produce it. They haven’t, and that speaks volumes.

The campaign for president lasted well over a year. The accurate counting of tens of millions of votes takes time. That time is nearing its conclusion, and we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the poll workers, election officials and ballot processors across the country for their dedication and vigilance. They are among democracy’s foot soldiers – our thin red, white, and blue line – who are demonstrating the resilience of our democracy.

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