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    Friday, August 12, 2022

    Abusive zealots make voting less secure

    This appeared in the Kansas City Star

    Of all the stunning revelations emerging from hearings of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, 2021, the testimony from those facing physical threats is the most disturbing.

    Last Tuesday a Georgia election worker named Shaye Moss testified that her life has been changed forever because of the vicious attacks she faced after the 2020 election.

    Moss had been falsely accused of mishandling ballots in Georgia. Abusive supporters of Donald Trump’s election lies soon made her life hell.

    “I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way,” she told the committee. “All because of lies.” Many of the criticisms were racist, Moss said.

    Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers — a Republican — said abusive zealots showed up in his neighborhood while his terminally ill daughter rested at his home.

    These stories should outrage every American. They should also remind us of how public servants should be treated, particularly those who work to make sure elections, and election results, are safe and secure.

    There is no reason that anyone should threaten anyone else with physical violence or death. It’s appalling to believe that abuse would be a part of any political or social dialogue.

    Election workers have an especially difficult job. Registering tens of thousands of voters, under difficult deadlines, is onerous. Front-line workers at polling places are even more vulnerable. Almost all of them are part-time employees who step forward to work elections, for maybe $100 or $150. They deserve our thanks, not threats or abuse.

    Elections are the most important thing we do in this country. They must be protected, at all times.

    Does that mean election workers, and other public officials, should be beyond criticism? Of course not. Reasonable concerns, discussed reasonably in the proper place, at the proper time, are essential to self-government. 

    But violence? Verbal abuse? Vile behavior? Death threats? There is no place, and no time, where that is acceptable. To abuse others in the service of election lies makes it even worse.

    When citizens go to the polls to make their choices known, that’s the real miracle of self-government, which survives despite an overwhelming assault by the former president and his fellow travelers.

    The Jan. 6 hearings are a reminder of the threat that process faces, as does democracy itself. Americans must face that threat and reject it.

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