Whether their candidates won or lost, Americans should commend election officials and volunteers for their outstanding work this year.
Instead, many are calling them criminals.
Day and night, critics on radio, TV and social media push false tales about misconduct by a wide array of election officials, voters, Democrats and companies. Even as many Republicans accept election results of every other race on the ballot, they reject the results of the presidential race.
They are encouraged to do so by President Donald Trump.
Truth is, this election was much better run than any of us could have expected. From start to finish, election officials exceeded expectations, especially when you consider the obstacles they faced.
Here’s an excerpt from a Nov. 12 Associated Press story: "A coalition of federal and state officials found no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in last week’s presidential election, rejecting unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud advanced by President Donald Trump and many of his supporters."
With complete disregard for facts, Trump, aided by accommodating Republicans, launched a disinformation campaign to undermine the results.
While the results were unchanged, trust in the system crumbled.
The Morning Consult, a research company, found that "(p)rior to the election, 68 percent of GOP voters said they had at least some trust in the U.S. election system. Post-election, that dropped to 34 percent."
Why do Americans choose to take the word of a man whose long record of dishonesty is well documented? Why trust him over bipartisan poll workers and election officials?
In part because they are sore losers, but mostly because they hope to gain politically.
It’s a dynamic we have some familiarity with. After all, Democrats have been calling Trump an illegitimate president for four years.
They whined that he got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. They pointed to Russians throwing the election to Trump. They complained about voter suppression policies.
In a 2019 interview with CBS, Clinton said about her 2016 loss: "I know that he knows that this wasn’t on the level. I don’t know that we’ll ever know what happened."
It can’t surprise Democrats when Republicans resort to similar tactics for political advantage.
Of course, Democrats and Republicans argue that their claims are true — while the other side is lying.
As if dishonesty is peculiar to one or the other party.
Both Democrats and Republicans understand the corrosive effects of their attacks. They have chosen to further damage people’s faith in their own country’s democracy because it’s politically expedient.
Their selfish, partisan ploys are especially galling this year, given how well our elections were handled.
Of course there were isolated problems — a few human errors, some technical glitches, the rare instance of cheating. It’s never been and never will be a perfect operation.
But state and local officials in Kansas and across the country were diligent in their efforts to make voting accessible and fair.
They managed to deal with the loss of many of their volunteer workers, with unprecedented numbers of absentee ballots, with cyber threats from home and abroad, with an onslaught of questions and concerns from the public, and with safety protocols that required new equipment, new rules and new attitudes.
They made sure democracy still works — despite everything. They are among the real heroes of 2020.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.