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By editorial board • 

Election security deserves a unified vote of confidence

Election security should never be taken for granted. It’s one of the key tools to a strong democracy. But fearmongering about unfounded voter fraud can be equally, if not more, damaging.

State and county election officials would never come right out and say it, but they were really just playing along when the Department of Homeland Security brought its “training” exercise to La Grande last week. Federal officials were ostensibly there to discuss election security. In reality, it’s appears another phantom menace invented by the Trump administration.

Before the 2016 election, when all those myopic political soothsayers predicted Trump could never win, he launched a pre-emptive strike to salve his famously fragile ego by claiming the election system had been “rigged.”

Even though he went on to win, Trump never admits a mistake. He always doubles down. So if he saw widespread election fraud, there must be widespread election fraud.

Democrats must be bringing in immigrants by the busload to vote illegally. Hackers must be skewing the results. Clerk’s office websites must have all been hacked.

It’s all baloney.

Oregon’s election system cannot be hacked. Vote tallies aren’t connected to the Internet and the system is not centralized enough for widespread tampering. There are safeguards on top of safeguards in place.

And it’s not just Oregon. Even the notoriously conservative Heritage Foundation has counted only 1,217 “proven instances” of voter fraud nationwide between 2000 and 2019. To put that number in perspective, approximately 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election alone.

Yes, there have been pernicious attempts to influence elections. However, as Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen said, “Our largest problem with the elections in the United States is what we say to each other.”

Most quislings in the election system try to spread misinformation to poison people’s minds before the balloting rather than illegally alter their votes afterward.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller concluded Russian agents tried to do exactly that in 2016, “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” with a little help from their friends.

“The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,” Mueller noted. “The campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” he reported.

Yet, the Trump administration has donenothing to address Russian meddling. Instead, it is sending its minions across the land for dog-and-pony shows like the one held in La Grande.

When it comes to election security, even the president’s supporters do not have to join him in rejecting reason and reality.

The great thing about misinformation is it doesn’t work if people don’t lap it up automatically. If they do their duty as citizens, and triangulate the truth from a variety of competent sources, no amount of money and manipulation in politics can change the outcome of elections.

Only when we allow ourselves to be lazy and uninformed — believing only what we want to believe — does the system truly begin to break down.

 

 

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