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EDITORIAL: Have faith in our vote

Elections are imperfect but valid

October 22, 2016

Extreme points of view rarely have basis in fact.

That’s something Hoosier voters should always keep in mind, but especially as they hear baseless attacks on the soundness of our voting system in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 general election.

The loudest—almost inescapable voice—of course, comes from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose destructive cries of a “rigged” election strike most people as nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to his tanking poll numbers.

But Trump’s wild claims are dangerous on a foundational level. They go beyond casting doubt on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election; they threaten to destroy public confidence in our time-tested election system itself. Without free, fair elections that Americans trust, our democracy is in danger.

It’s important to remember that our country’s decentralized system of voting is run by—us. States run their own elections and rely in large part on volunteers—our friends and neighbors—to work the polling places and count the votes. There’s no evidence of widespread fraud subverting the will of the people by changing the outcome of a national election.

An orchestrated effort on such a large scale is highly unlikely. But that’s not to say fraud doesn’t exist. Anyone who claims otherwise is, like Trump, promoting a fantasy.

The Indiana State Police are in the midst of investigating two cases of potential tampering with voter rolls.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said her office recently discovered that thousands of voter registrations had been altered. Lawson said Indiana’s online voter registration database had not been hacked but that birth dates and first names had been changed, either online, on paper forms, or at Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices.

Some local election officials dismissed the suggestion there had been an orchestrated effort to change forms, but state police are investigating. And they’re trying to determine if there’s a link to another case of possible voter registration fraud affecting 56 Indiana counties. That investigation focuses on whether some voter registration forms were forged by the Washington, D.C.-based voter mobilization group Patriot Majority USA.

Both scenarios are cause for concern, but the fact they’ve been flagged and are being investigated should give the electorate more confidence in the system, not less.

Let’s face it; isolated instances of voter fraud are not new. They’ve happened across the country, presumably since the first vote was cast. When they’re found, they are investigated and dealt with. To suggest there’s widespread “rigging” of elections is irresponsible at the very least.

Hoosiers should go to the polls, vote for their favorite candidates, and leave with confidence that the election outcome will reflect the will of the people.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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