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Free and Fair Elections

Democracy, by definition, is characterized by the process of free and fair elections. Eligible citizens have the opportunity to cast their votes for the candidates and the issues that they care about. For democracy to work, it requires the participation of all eligible citizens of every demographic and socio-economic situation to get a complete picture of the choices of the nation. In other words, EVERY vote counts. Period. It does not matter whether these votes were cast in person during early voting or Election Day, cast through mail-in absentee ballots, cast in an official election ballot drop box, or cast through a voting drive-thru, provided these were all legally sanctioned options at the time of the vote. It does not matter whether these votes were cast for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. There is only one thing that matters: that EVERY vote counts.

This should not be a debatable question. Yet, with angry citizens protesting outside of polling stations in undecided battleground states and a flurry of irresponsible comments from elected officials that question the free and fair nature of this election, I think people need a better understanding of the election process and what a free and a fair election even means.

Every four years, we come together as a nation to vote for which candidate should take on the role of the Presidency. The President, along with his Vice President and cabinet, represents the executive branch of government. He or she is the face of the nation on a global stage and, in the words of the late Harry S. Truman, “the buck stops here” when it comes to signing or veto powers, just to name a couple of the many responsibilities bestowed on the presidency.

Historically, there have been many attempts to disenfranchise eligible voters. To say otherwise is to deny and refute our documented American history. During America’s infancy, one could only vote if he were male, white, a property owner, and sufficiently wealthy. The right to vote was expanded over the years to include poor white men without property, racial minorities, and women. When I say a couple of years, I mean a couple of decades or centuries, depending on which group. Once African Americans were granted the right to vote, especially in the south, there were frequent episodes of voter intimidation and voter suppression. To say otherwise is to deny documented American history. This is not a debatable point. This is a fact.

Today, as in the 2020 election, many factors could be interpreted as either voter suppression or simply incompetence. For example, the slowdowns in the post office which delayed receipt of mail-in ballots could be considered voter suppression if intentional or incompetence if unintentional. Legalizing drive-thru voting and ballot drop boxes and trying to disqualify those votes when cast in good faith is voter suppression. Armed protestors outside of polling stations can be construed as voter intimidation. These are factual and documented events from the 2020 election.

Right now, the main problem is the delay in counting mail-in ballot votes. This is because, depending on the state’s election laws, votes can’t be counted until Election Day. Perhaps these delays will lead to new laws that allow mail-in ballots to be counted upon receipt instead of starting on Election Day. Perhaps other strategies can be implemented in the future to avoid this problem. Impatience aside, anyone who voted in good faith regardless of the method should have their vote count, period.

The late and great former President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Our freedom is grounded on our right to vote and for every vote to count. We are impatiently waiting for the results. We all want to know who won. Our freedom is only assured if every vote counts. Period.


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