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OPINION: DAN ENGLISH — Let’s see if our voting system is safe

| August 5, 2020 1:00 AM

Of the many things that makes America great, one of the most central and important is the process by which we all exercise our democracy, the voting process. We, as a country, have been a world leader in how to conduct honest, fair, reliable elections. And the reliability of our honest elections is the basis of another great strength of ours: the peaceful transfer of power.

It is highly troubling now to have that very strength challenged by what is either the reality of or the perception of flaws creeping into our elections systems. Daily we are hearing our president suggesting that this next election will be flawed and outcomes may be questioned. Others are repeating these same concerns.

What I don’t see is any rationale for these concerns. Many, many people in this country already vote by mail (which is the same thing as absentee voting) with all safety measures in place. Several states have been entirely voting by mail for years. The incidence of fraud in these situations is knowable and researchable and has been proven to be extremely rare.

Here in Kootenai County our last election, the May primary, was entirely by mail. In prior elections, nearly a third of votes were cast by mail or early voting.

I am calling on Mr. Brannon, our County Clerk, to tell us if our local elections were/are safe. Was there fraud in our recent all-mail election in May? What systems are in place to ensure that fraud does not occur? Please address the concerns that are being raised in the media.

For example, would it be possible for an outside entity to flood an area with extra ballots to swing an election? Is it possible for an individual to steal ballots from mailboxes, and vote all those stolen ballots? How would you know if such a thing occurred? Are there any flaws in Kootenai County’s elections systems and if so, how are you going to fix those?

There is a good chance that this next election will be different from any other due to concerns related to the pandemic. It is reasonable to ask if our elections systems nationwide are up to the challenge.

Voting by mail-in ballots will begin in less than six weeks. Each election cycle, a larger portion of our voters votes by early mail absentee ballots. This cycle could see that grow to perhaps 50% of all votes cast.

Rather than just question that, now is the time to investigate it. Individuals and reporters can and should research this issue. Look at states where voters have been voting by mail for years. If there are flaws in the system, now is the time to address those flaws. However, I think you will find that our elections are safe. Now is the time to put to rest any speculation about widespread election fraud. It is important for our democracy.

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Dan English is a former Kootenai County Clerk and Chief Election Official, having served for 15 years. He served in various state and federal election roles including the Idaho Secretary of State’s Election Task Force and was appointed to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s National Standards Board. He rose to a position of leadership, and was selected as national chair of Standards Board by the 110-member commission.