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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Columns

Jayne: Ask question? Listen to answer

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Page Editor
Published: September 11, 2022, 6:02am

The questions were prudent yet preposterous. Articulate yet asinine.

Such are the political times in which we live, when cognitive dissonance is regarded not as a vice but rather a virtue.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about unfounded claims of voter fraud. More accurately, it was about a lengthy examination by The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review about such unfounded claims in this state.

As Ralph Munro, Washington’s secretary of state from 1981 to 2001, was quoted as saying: “This is all organized as a fraud by Donald Trump and his folks and it’s just not true. People have gotten sucked into a lot of lies.”

As Munro also was quoted as saying: “Show me some examples of where there’s some fraud or some sort of problem. You have every right, if there’s an example of that, to go before a judge and make sure it’s looked at. I commend citizens for that. Don’t make wild accusations and just make a fool of yourself.”

That led to an email from a reader who declined to sign their name. As I said, the email was prudent and articulate. And it raised some fair questions.

Such as: “If we agree that protecting the integrity of democracy by protecting the voting process then we should assume placing party aside and collaborating with everyone would be the right thing to do. In other words, if a person is true and honest in their statement that making sure the voting process is secure, they would have no challenges in having the process scrutinized and inspected.”

And, “If a person is hostile towards the subject it could make some ask why, if you believe integrity is important, are you so violently opposed to have the process inspected?”

All of which is a triple-somersault, double-twist dive into the cauldron in which our democracy is simmering, a stew teeming with lies and vitriol for free and fair elections, ignoring inspections that have taken place.

As then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr said shortly after the 2020 election: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

As a statement from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency said: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.”

As some 60 state and federal judges said in court rulings, Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud were bereft of evidence.

As a Republican-ordered audit in Arizona said, Joe Biden’s win in that state was affirmed, and there was not widespread fraud.

As an audit in Michigan said, 1,657 ballots out of 5,453,892 in that state may have been duplicate ballots or cast by somebody who died prior to Election Day. That’s 0.03 percent.

As a review of election results in Wisconsin found, there was “absolutely no evidence of election fraud” in that state.

In state after state, county after county, the 2020 election has been scrutinized and litigated and rehashed. And the outcome is always the same, making Trump supporters the epitome of the colloquial definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

And at some point, the rest of us need to recognize the threat this poses to our democracy. Thousands of terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 election. Several Republican-led states responded to lies by changing voting laws. Some 60 percent of Americans will have an election denier on their ballot this November, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

And if enough people believe the thoughts of a serial liar and cater to his whims in the face of all available evidence, our democracy is doomed.

Because the problem surrounding election integrity is not a failure to listen to the questions; it is a total disregard for the answers.