Friday, February 03, 2023

EDITORIAL: How to stomp out electioneering

| September 14, 2022 1:00 AM

The recent case of blatant and unpunished electioneering is over, further shaking citizens who already felt that free and fair elections were in jeopardy. We offer a constructive suggestion rather than a recycled complaint.

Treat the case, in which witnesses and election officials testified that a local poll worker illegally disseminated materials during last November’s general election, like a valuable lesson learned.

And as with all lessons learned, take steps to prevent it from happening again.

How? Through two vitally important channels.

One is the office of the Kootenai County Clerk, who happens to be the county’s top elections official. Through vigorous screening and rigorous training, perhaps some political activists will be weeded out before damage can be done. These are hired positions — albeit not the kind that will make anybody rich — so the utmost scrutiny of applicants is completely appropriate.

To be clear, The Press is not criticizing Clerk Jim Brannon or anyone else in that office for what happened last November. Brannon and his team worked hard on training and, when a complaint was lodged, responded without hesitation.

The best way to avoid a problem, however, is to minimize the likelihood of it happening in the first place, so filling poll worker positions with people whose sole mission is to provide valuable public service rather than push their agendas is essential.

Even so, especially when polls are packed, it’s probably impossible for election officials to detect every infraction. That’s where the second vitally important channel comes in.

You, fellow voters.

If you witness someone breaking the law, circulating “cards or handbills of any kind” within 100 feet of any polling place on Election Day, find the head election official at that polling place and report the infraction. Through law enforcement, if necessary, the guilty party can be stopped in his or her tracks.

There is no more sacred right of American citizenship than exercising the right to vote free of restraint or influence. Defend that right with your vigilance and your integrity.

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