Without a doubt, the 2020 election was fair. Now how do ensure future elections are, too?

President Donald Trump’s wide-ranging assaults on our system of elections revealed vulnerabilities many of us didn’t even realize existed.

SHARE Without a doubt, the 2020 election was fair. Now how do ensure future elections are, too?
Election_2020_Arizona.jpg

In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Maricopa County elections officials count ballots in Phoenix.

Matt York/AP

As a nation, we can be proud we ran a safe and secure election at a time of pandemic and high turnout.

But President Donald Trump’s wide-ranging assaults on our system of elections revealed vulnerabilities many of us didn’t realize existed. We need to inspect our firewalls and ensure they will withstand similar assaults in the future.

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This time around, Democratic and Republican judges and election officials in counties and swing states stood their ground and ensured that ballots were counted and the election was decided by the voters. But although President-elect Joe Biden won by 7 million popular votes, a swing of just 45,000 votes in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin would have denied Biden the presidency.

Such a narrow margin means future elections could be overturned by disqualifying a relatively small number of ballots, fairly or not.

We now know how much we depend on a handful of officials in swing states putting their commitment to a fair election above political pressure. But can we count on that in every election? As it was, a Republican in Michigan tried to revoke certification of that state’s votes.

Before the next election season arrives, we’d like to see a few things happen, knowing that, yes, we’re dreaming in a couple of cases. But nothing will matter more than good people standing up to the crazies even when it’s to their political disadvantage.

Widely denounce threats of violence. In state after state, would-be election usurpers tried to overturn the results by threatening everyone from workers counting ballots to officials certifying results. Chris Krebs, the former director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, received death threats after a Trump campaign lawyer said Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot.” The lawyer later said he was joking, but it is hard to see the joke.

The secretaries of state in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada received death threats, and armed protesters showed up on Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s lawn. Former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was right when he tweeted, “There is long-term damage when this kind of behavior is normalized.”

Only a chorus of voices denouncing it — so far shamelessly lacking this time — will prevent that normalization.

Speak out unanimously against attempts to subvert the election. Without strong bipartisan condemnation of Trump’s blatant attempts, without evidence of fraud, to overturn the election, future candidates will be tempted to use his playbook, perhaps with more success. But too many top Republicans are either supporting Trump’s efforts or staying silent. In Georgia, Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are supporting a Texas lawsuit joined by 17 red states that would upend the popular vote in four swing states that Trump lost, including their own state.

Reform the electoral college. Since 2006, 15 state legislatures and the District of Columbia have signed on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would give each state’s electoral votes to the national popular voter winner. The compact, which would go into effect when states with an additional total of 74 electoral votes join, would give the presidency to the popular vote winner. It no longer would be possible to reject that winner by tinkering with a few votes in battleground states.

Enact a new voting rights act. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, proposed in Congress, would help put a stop to voter suppression, such as requiring photo IDs, gerrymandering, purging legitimate voters from voting lists and placing drop-off ballot boxes and polling places in a way that favors one political party over another.

Enact a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. Although constitutional amendments are a challenging proposition, such an amendment would make it clear every American citizen of legal voting age has a right to vote in their jurisdiction. That would make it harder to toss out legitimately cast votes.

Shore up the U.S. Postal Service. The Trump administration handcuffed the Postal Service with budget cuts and removal of sorting equipment in a cynical attempt to delay the delivery of mail-in ballots. The Postal Service needs the resources to do its job, and local election authorities need federal help to buy equipment to sort and process mail-in ballots.

Modernize voting machines. Many election jurisdictions are using outdated equipment, and several states still have paperless voting machines that don’t permit a recount. With more than 8,000 election offices across the country, ensuring all of them have secure voting systems is a big job, but it is a critical one.

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