It is with a rising sense of unease that I read the continuing comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others about the purported “rigging” of the 2016 election. These comments, which are increasingly adamant and frequent as Election Day approaches, are dangerous. In making them, Trump risks undermining the very foundations of our Republic.
For over 230 years, American elections have been fiercely fought, sometimes on deeply personal terms, often on matters of great importance. Our continued existence as a republic, as a nation, depends on our mutual understanding that elections are valid ways of picking leaders, and that the results of our elections should be abided by and power peacefully transferred. Winners take power, losers prepare for the next election.
What is so deeply disturbing now about Trump’s comments, and the echoing claims of “voter fraud” and “rigging” coming from elsewhere, is that they are completely without basis, and made solely for the purpose of partisan gamesmanship. Study after documented study has shown that in-person voter fraud occurs so rarely in American elections that it is statistically insignificant. Of the tens of millions of votes cast in North Carolina in the last 20 years, fewer than 30 cases of fraud have been reported. In-person voter fraud simply plays no role in the outcome of any election.
Two weeks ago, I received an email from the Wake County Republican Party seeking election observers to combat what the email claimed was actual ongoing voter fraud, illegal voting and dead people being registered to vote. Election observers play a valid and important role in ensuring fair play in each precinct. But the knowledge of ongoing fraud is something that should be addressed immediately, not on Election Day.
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Wake County residents can rest assured that their votes will count, regardless of their political party or persuasion. The Wake County Commission and the Wake County Board of Elections have worked together to make early voting accessible and convenient, and to fully fund the successful administration of the vote at every one of our over 200 precincts.
Claims of fraud and rigging are false, and where attempted such efforts will be stopped and prosecuted. Elected and appointed officials of all political stripes must agree on those basic facts before we disagree on any other.
John D. Burns
Wake County Commissioner, District 7
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.