Elections matter. Election matters.

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

It’s been a year since the 2020 election.

In some circles, there are still, and apparently for some, will forever be, questions.

About a year from now is the mid-term election. And in 2024, God help us, another presidential election.

Disputed and contested elections – and widespread distrust, if not cynicism about election results are the benchmarks of a corrupt, if not failed state.

The near universal right to vote and election integrity are the hallmarks of any free, fair and stable society and should be the ultimate non-partisan issue.

To put it mildly, we cannot afford a replay of the chaos, distrust and disunity that followed the 2020 presidential elections.

Both political parties train and authorize election observers.

Both parties, and those of no party affiliation, have much at stake when it comes to election integrity.

Here are just a few of the problems (real or imaginary) that swirled around the election of 2020.

They counted that ballot three times!

One video that raised furor online was from one of the election offices in Arizona.

An election worker was clearly seen putting a ballot into a counting machine, taking it out, putting it back in and taking it out and putting it in a third time.

The conservative narrative was that “liberals” win because their ballots are counted three times while conservative ballots are only counted once.

This is a case where political bias and ignorance of the counting process combine to arrive at a convincing – and false – conclusion.

Next time you see a ballot, look at how many candidates or issues are on a page. There are likely to be three – or more.

Each office or issue is counted separately – therefore the ballot must be entered and accounted for, in reference to each office or issue.

If you think about it, how else could counting be accomplished?

Armed election observers?

To put it simply, election observers should never be armed.

Weapons at an election site would accomplish exactly what?

We in Washington state have had mail-in voting for many years. So this is rarely an issue.

But many states still have in-person voting at public places. And many of those states allow election observers to be armed.

Visible arms have no impact on ballots – or their counting. But they do influence who votes.

The only reason to visibly carry arms at an election site is to intimidate voters.

And voter intimidation is a crime under federal and state law, no matter where you vote.

That means it is a crime for someone to ask you about your citizenship as you attempt to vote, or for someone to scream at you as you attempt to vote, or for someone brandishing a gun to block your path to the voting booth.

As a registered voter, you have a right to cast your ballot peacefully and without interference.

No one “looks like” (or not like) a legitimate voter. Each one is registered or they aren’t.

You might think armed voter intimidation never happens, but it happened in Springfield, Oregon, in 2020, when armed groups intimidated voters at a ballot drop-off box, resulting in some people leaving out of fear.

What voter intimidation looks like

Anything that threatens a voter or obstructs their constitutionally protected right to vote is considered to be intimidation, including blocking access to a polling place, physical violence or threatening violence — including brandishing a weapon, no matter a state’s open carry laws.

Asking someone about citizenship, who they are voting for, or their criminal record.

Disseminating misinformation.

Taking photos or videos of voters or following them around.

Shouting or using offensive language and taunting chants.

Falsely identifying as an election official or law enforcement officer.

If you witness behavior you believe is meant to scare or turn away voters, you can report it easily. 866-our-vote is a national, nonpartisan election protection hotline that’s comprised of more than 100 local, state, and national groups and volunteers. You can also report intimidation to The Election Protection Hotline:1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA; and the US Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline:800-253-3931.

Anyone can send out a ballot

One of the criticisms of our electoral system is that “Anyone can send out a ballot”.

Yes, that’s true. But it is also irrelevant.

Many organizations, from political parties to business marketers send out “ballots” or close facsimiles.

But when it comes to official elections, they have no effect.

Election offices don’t count ballots – they match ballots with pre-existing, registered voters.

Bogus ballots from any source, will not be counted.

In the case of multiple ballots, each registered voter is allowed ONE ballot of record.

If there is missing or mismatched signature, the registered voter will be contacted by the election office. That may take several days, so in a close election the results may not be final for a week or so after the election.

The formula is very simple; in any given election, one voter, one vote.

To register or to look into any aspect of local voting in Pierce County begin here: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/328/Elections.

To register or to look into any aspect of voting within Washington state, begin here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/.

Millions of missing votes

The internet was abuzz with rumors of millions of missing votes in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

This is not only false, it is literally impossible.

Votes are tabulated and confirmed by local precincts.

Any given precinct in our state has no more than 1,500 residents (not all of them registered or qualified voters).

Many elections (at the precinct level) are decided by a two or three vote margin. In other words, in many precincts, one household could tilt an election.

A recount at the precinct level would be simple and prompt.

Millions, or hundreds, or even dozens, of ballots sloshing around the electoral system is just not going to happen.

More voters is good for Democrats

There is a persistent myth, disproven in study after study, but believed by both parties, that increased voter participation is better for Democrats.

The reality is that increased voter participation is good for all of us.

Fun facts about local elections

Pierce County has 555 precincts – each one with a (potential) PCO (Precinct Committee Officer) from each party.

Pierce County (as of November of 2020) had 567,803 registered voters.

Of those, 467, 072 voted in 2020. That means our voter turnout was 82.26%.

Washington (as of October, 2021) has about 4,816, 855 registered voters.

In 2020, statewide voter turnout was a bit over 84%.

San Juan County had the highest turnout at 90.76%.

Yakima County had the lowest turnout at 75.95%.