Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District candidates believe America’s democracy is under threat. Both nod to conversations surrounding mail-in voting as the harbinger of this danger.
After Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump, claims that the election wasn’t legitimate pervaded both local and national politics. Although exhaustive analyses have debunked the claims of election fraud, the theory persists.
Two years later, Republican candidate Joe Kent is among those continuing to breathe life into the Big Lie — the theory that former President Donald Trump won the election — by questioning the legitimacy of mail-in voting and ballot counting. In an interview with The Columbian, the candidate said he does not believe Biden won the election. Kent said he has more questions than answers surrounding Biden’s success.
“I think the big threat to democracy is people not trusting the election system. It’s a big issue,” Kent said, later touching on his support for election audits. He said he welcomes future analyses for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District race in November.
In Kent’s eyes, the perfect solution is to dissolve mail-in voting and, instead, establish two federal holidays so people can vote in person. He said he also wants tighter standards to verify voters’ identity and citizenship.
On the other hand, Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez asserts that this rhetoric serves as the fabric of the threat being discussed.
“This is a guy who wants to dismantle mail-in voting, which — let’s be very clear — is the most safe and secure safeguard in our democracy,” she said. “There has been no credible evidence of any significant fraud in our elections.”
Perez rallied behind voting by mail, calling it the gold standard in election security and engagement. Without this means of casting one’s vote, she said, those who live in rural areas or can’t afford to take time off work would be excluded from the polls.
Kent remains firmly skeptical.
If people’s election security qualms go unaddressed, he said, they will act to make their voice heard.
“If we disenfranchise people, people think, ‘Hey, my government is not going to hear me at the ballot box, so I have to make my government hear me or express my grievances,’ ” Kent said, while rejecting violence.
He was one of the 34 plaintiffs named in a lawsuit filed by the Washington Election Integrity Coalition United against Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, which was dismissed Sept. 30 by a federal court judge. The nonprofit group has filed a series of election fraud lawsuits in multiple counties related to the 2020 general election.
No election deception
Washington election laws have been developed for more than 30 years to create a secure, transparent and accountable vote-by-mail election, Kimsey said.
There are also members of the public who assume this role, which has made some voters uncomfortable, Kimsey said.
If any activity at ballot drop boxes makes voters uneasy, they should contact law enforcement or the Elections Office. For any questions related to Clark County’s election processes, contact Kimsey at 564-397-2078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.