It has been more than a week since the Biden-Harris ticket has been declared the winner of the 2020 General Election, yet our nation is still in turmoil over the results.

President Trump’s legal team has filed at least 17 lawsuits in state and federal courts claiming voter fraud in an effort to have the results of the election overturned. That is his right and we fully support him in exhausting all of his legal avenues. Every American needs to be able to trust that his/her vote was fairly and accurately counted.

But this editorial is not about who won or who lost. It is about the future not just of our nation but of our democracy.

Just suppose that Mr. Trump is right and the past election was tainted by voter fraud ranging from mail-in ballots that were fraudulently cast to illegal ballots being counted to votes being cast on behalf of dead people. And suppose that those illegalities were widespread enough to change the outcome of the election. At the very least we are talking tens of thousands of votes since the margin of victory in some states was very close. As matter of fact, Georgia is still too close to call and will conduct a by-hand recount.

If even some of these claims are true, then we, as a nation, have much bigger issues than who will be the next President of the United States. Such accusations cast doubt upon our very form of government.

We, as Americans, are in very big trouble if we can’t trust our election system. Other countries can’t trust their election returns, but that has never been true of the United States. We have always had faith that our votes were counted and that they were counted correctly, that our poll workers were honest and fair, and that state election officials ignored the parenthetical D and R when doing their jobs. Our election system has been a model for other nations. Is that no longer true?

If the courts find that voter fraud did occur on the scale that President Trump’s lawsuits allege, then that casts doubt on not just the presidential race, but on all other races on the ballot — those running for city, state and federal offices and on the results of state and municipal questions. Perhaps there was not fraud on just one race on the ballot, but in other races as well.

But the issue is bigger than who won or lost. Let’s think about the implications of a tainted election process. If this election was tainted, will future elections be tainted as well if our election system is as broken as some have claimed? Will we be able to trust election returns even on local issues such as school board and city council races? And where do we begin to fix the problem? Does the federal government mandate that all states have the same voting systems and rules concerning casting in-person and mail-in ballots and in what order those ballots are counted? That flies in the face of state’s rights, which we wholeheartedly support. According to the Pew Research Center, faith in government has seen a general decline since the Johnson administration, with D and R perceptions flipping depending on who was in the White House. Is public loss of faith in the election process just the next inevitable step?

For almost 200 years, we have relied on Americans to make their own decisions in the voting booth and we have trusted poll workers to accurately count those votes.

If we can no longer trust our election results, where does that leave us as a nation?

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