Ross: Government depends on election officials being able to do their jobs
Last December, Vermont’s Secretary of State got a phone call from a man who was very upset with the outcome of the presidential election:
“Do you realize there’s a reason we just brought back the firing squad? No more painless lethal injections. From now on, the firing squad or poison gas. Your days are numbered.”
That’s just a small part of the message, but you get the idea. It certainly sounds like the Secretary of State was being threatened. But the State of Vermont has declined to prosecute – even though reporters were able to track down and identify this guy.
For our weekly interview this morning, I asked former state Attorney General Rob McKenna to look into why this case didn’t warrant prosecution:
“The state’s attorney concluded that the messages were protected speech because they weren’t directed at a single person or official,” McKenna said. “They were, I’m quoting him now, ‘conditional on a perception of malfeasance in the election process,’ and the caller did not indicate he would personally inflict harm.”
In short, he was dismissed as just another troll.
Reuters reported that after the 2020 election, there were 800 intimidating calls made to election officials in 12 states. Zero prosecutions.
I’m happy that we err on the side of free speech in this country. But tolerating threats to the people who run our elections – I have a problem with that.
Our whole system of government depends on election officials being able to do their jobs without having to worry that their personal safety could depend on who wins.
And yet, January 6th revealed that there is a movement in this country that believes in using force to overturn any election that doesn’t go their way.
We have a shadow Bully-ocracy that wants us to stop trusting elections.
And they have plenty of help from those among us who never have anything good to say about politicians – or politics – and who think they’re all corrupt.
I have no doubt some are, but electing politicians who engage in politics is how nations make decisions without killing each other.
To reject politics is to embrace violence. And to de-humanize politicians is to empower this guy:
“From now on, the firing squad or poison gas.”
I know our politicians are far from perfect, but better to be governed by them than a mob of bare-chested yahoos with horns.
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