With allegations of voting and election fraud constantly in the news the last few months, stories of dangerous, anti-democratic efforts to impact the November 2020 election continue to permeate the news – with former President Donald Trump leading several efforts. Most recently, Business Insider reported the White House’s Office of Management and Budget delayed efforts to create a poll worker recruitment website for up to a month in July and August 2020, a crucial time gap in the runup to the election. The latest in a string of previously known attempted electoral interference, most prominently Louis DeJoy’s attempted dismantling of the Post Office to impact voting by mail, this makes the President’s claims of a “rigged” and “stolen” election look more like deflection and projection.
In Connecticut, we know we had one of the highest voting turnouts by percentage of population in history in 2020, as well as one of the most secure elections in state history. Much of that is due to the eagerness of voters to get out and make sure their voices are heard, but the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee deserves recognition. In 2020, it pushed forward legislation that allowed for everyone in Connecticut to choose how they voted. Folks who felt comfortable entering polling places did so; those who did not were able to submit absentee ballots.
Voting by mail shouldn’t be considered strange, despite what some have said in opposing expanding this access in future elections. After all, the state of Oregon has voted by mail in every election since 2000. With no major issues arising in two decades, it seems pretty secure. I supported the GAE Committee’s recent consideration of legislation to retain expanded access to absentee voting through at least upcoming special elections, which is especially important as COVID transmission is significantly worse statewide than it was during August primaries and November general elections. Expanding access to absentee ballots after COVID-19 is one thing – doing so when the virus is still infecting thousands daily is much more vital.
Unfortunately, some disagree – including state leaders with power to act. When this concept was raised, half of the Republicans on the GAE Committee voted no. They’re all members of the Republican Conservative Caucus, including ranking member Rob Sampson, caucus founder.
But they didn’t simply say “no.” Theirlack of support wasn’t due to legitimate concerns. If it was, they’d have named actual incidents of voter fraud.
After voting against the expansion of absentee ballot access, Senator Sampson spewed misinformation about voter fraud in a newspaper interview, not able or willing to mention any actual incidents he’s aware of but happy to reiterate “election fraud is a legitimate and real thing.” The United States government and 50 state governments across the country have said, time and time again, that the 2020 election was one of the safest and most secure in our nation’s history. Individual issues have cropped up, such as Bruce Bartman of Pennsylvania, who submitted an absentee ballot voting for Trump for his deceased mother. But by now, more than two months after the election was held, evidence would have come to light if there were any major problems with the 2020 election. Just because people believe the election was stolen does not make that lie fact, and to play up that misguided line of thinking is dangerous.
Opposing absentee ballot access expansion wouldn’t be too bad if my colleagues had arguments and evidence to back up their points, but this is not an issue of politicians squabbling. By continuing to use this playbook of vague accusations, Connecticut Republicans who continue to prop up this lie are harming the very practice of democracy, casting scorn on free and fair elections and supporting an anti-Democratic line of thinking that, just weeks ago, led to a dangerous insurrection against the United States Capitol. I understand they do not represent all Connecticut Republicans, but we must face reality. To say “the truth is in the middle” when one side is preaching a disturbing, dangerous big lie that has already led to the deaths of five people is to argue against the principles of our government and society.