Can We Vote in Peace?

A good friend frequently sends me cartoons and fun memes, and she recently shared delightful pictures of black cats, perfect for the Halloween mood. Since I love black cats, the pictures made me smile, especially this one:

Not only is is cute, it’s a charming bit of art. Don’t you think?

I posted that picture because I thought it would be a good idea to start the blog with a little fun before getting into a political commentary. As I’ve mentioned several times over recent months, I do try to stop writing opinion pieces, but then, well, I’ve been an opinion columnist for a long time. Sometimes professionally for newspapers; and sometimes simply here on the blog. Plus, writing about an issue helps release some of my stress over the absolutely absurd things that happen in our current society.

Case in point, is voter fraud. A rigged election. A stolen election. And all the other conspiracy theories thrown about by radicals since the 2020 election.

Talk about a stressor.

Did you know that on election day 2020, protestors had already gathered outside the vote counting centers in Maricopa County, AZ, spouting all that misinformation? That wasn’t something I was aware of until listening to the 10-24-22 episode of The Daily Podcast from The New York Times. I thought all the shouting about a stolen election didn’t start until after the official results of the election were reported a few days later.

Let me repeat what happened that fateful day:

On election day November 3, 2020, angry mobs were present in some states to protest the Biden win; a win that wasn’t officially announced until November 7, 2020.

Several hundred protestors in AZ, led by Alex Jones, started the push-back even before the election was over. Think about that. 45 had not even officially lost, but the people were shouting “Stop the steal.” “The election is rigged.” “Election fraud.”

Where did those people get those catch-phrases before the Donald started shouting them at later rallies?

How long had plans been underway to have people assemble at ballot-counting centers and protest?

Who stirred that ugly pot of misinformation and hate?

On the Daily Podcast, those questions weren’t answered directly, but more information about that horrible election period was shared by Stephen Richer, the chief election officer in Maricopa County, AZ and a staunch, life-long Republican. He was running for that office in 2020, and early that November evening thought he’d lost, only to be surprised later that night to see that he was pulling ahead of his opponent. As were many other state-level GOP candidates.

He went on to win, as did many of his GOP candidates, and he thought that was good news. Certainly if many Republicans won, that would quell the outrage from so many members of the GOP. But it didn’t.

While the country waited the four days before Biden was officially declared President-Elect, the angry mobs persisted, and on the Daily Podcast, Richer describes what it was like that November day in 2020, as well as what has happened since.

It’s not pretty.

In fact, it’s downright ugly.

Continued death threats. Twenty-four in the last week.

Harassment of election officials and precinct workers.

Damage and vandalism to staff member’s vehicles and homes.

Richer personally being harassed by GOP political groups who had previously embraced and supported him as a candidate.

Threats and harassment all because after auditing the voting process and machines, he declared that everything had been in order.

All because he wouldn’t perpetuate the “lie.”

It’s distressing to read that the 2022 election is shaping up to be even worse than 2020 in terms of anger, threats, unfounded proclamations that the voting process is rigged, and calls to violence. No wonder poll workers are quitting in droves across the country. No wonder some people are afraid to go vote.

The kind of violence and angry rhetoric we’ve seen since 2020, including the January 6th. insurrection has no place in a civilized democracy.

But are we? Civilized, I mean.

Please tell this idealist that we can be that kind of country again.

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