A Dangerous Day for Democracy

A fair voting system is crucial to our democracy, but electron fraud is a larger threat than ever before.

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photo courtesy of ABC News

While mail-in voting used to be a novelty, it has become one of the main ways people are expressing their voice this election.

Julia Poppa, Photography Editor

There is a dying hope inside me that is trying to hold onto the idea that the former Vice-President might secure this election, and— I can’t say make things definitively better– at least stop making things worse. But as I said, this hope is a quickly dwindling.

I’ve been watching the political climate escalate, and it’s difficult not to see that our rights are already being stripped from us. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to get involved in the democratic process, it will most likely fail us this year anyway.

In May of this year, Alexander Hillel Treisman was arrested at a bank in Kannapolis, North Carolina after employees said that he had abandoned his white van in the parking lot. Inside, authorities found over $500,000 in cash, several rifles, ammunition, and explosives that he had reportedly traveled to several different states to procure. In an investigation, authorities found that Treisman had been within four miles of Joe Biden’s home. He had recently posted a meme asking, “Should I kill Joe Biden?” He also had what investigators said was a “checklist note ending with ‘execute’” that he had written. 

Yet somehow, several months later, Treisman’s criminal record is limited to child pornography— which is admittedly not a comforting fact to add to the mix. He has still faced no charges for what seems, at least to the public eye, to be a very open and shut case of domestic terrorism and a plot to assassinate a presidential candidate. 

Now, I fully understand that this happened many months ago when we were not yet accustomed to the rapid decay of the political climate and that there were many other, certainly more pressing, matters to attend to. But, recently, as this story has come to light, conspiracies as to how a 19 year old was able to obtain such lethal devices and half a million dollars in cash have circulated. 

The primary conspiracy was that someone closely related to Trump or his administration was responsible for sending Triesman on this “mission.” Do I personally believe that this was a ploy by the Trump Administration to cut down the competition? No, but because the story made its way around social media without anyone fact-checking it, I can understand how it would lead many people to believe that the $500,000 was slipped out of some mysterious conservative higher-up’s pocket. 

Now, if this were true, it would certainly be quite a, shall I say, effective way to ensure Trump’s success in the upcoming election. Despite my general skepticism, this assassination attempt has made me consider all of the ways that the Trump Administration and Republican Party as a whole have been attempting to tamper with the election to illegitimately ensure the president’s second term.

Enter my rapidly draining reservoir of hope. 

Many of us saw the warning signs of a wary election in the early days of the pandemic. As many Americans finally came to terms with the fact that this pandemic had no intentions of going anywhere, it also begged the question of how it would affect the election. 

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is already an underfunded— albeit necessary— part of our infrastructure, but as the American public realized the massive challenge of utilizing the postal system to send out ballots and voter information, Trump took the opportunity to further undermine the election process. 

Mail-in voting was once a fairly unconsidered method of voting, but this year, it is one of the main ways that millions of Americans have cast their vote. But as late July and early August rolled around, Trump began withdrawing funds from the USPS. 

Trump offered one measly token of support for his decision to force postal offices to shut down mail sorting systems and remove public mailboxes, saying that widespread mail-in voting would lead to higher rates of election fraud. 

But, like many statements Trump has made, this one was based in little to no fact at all.  The actual rate of mail-in voter fraud is only 0.0025 percent

To make matters worse, Trump openly admitted that cutting funding from the USPS would greatly decrease people’s ability to vote by mail. 

This extremely obvious attack on voting accessibility is not the most direct action the Trump administration has taken to ensure that this election is both fraudulent and stolen. ”

In a statement he made in August, he said, “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

In rebuttal, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said, “The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years.”

Yet even this extremely obvious attack on voting accessibility is not the most direct action the Trump administration has taken to ensure that this election is both fraudulent and stolen. 

Many companies, including one in northeastern Ohio, have “fallen behind” on mailing out ballots, printed them incorrectly, filled in voter information improperly, or failed to send them at all. Speculation that these companies endorse the current president arose when the company recently flew a “Trump 2020” flag outside of their office on Cleveland’s West Side. 

The Wexford bubble is not exempt from election fraud, either. Several people that I personally know have received ballots that were not printed fully on the page or had false information.

Surely these attacks couldn’t get any more obvious, right?

Wrong. As ballot boxes popped up all over major US cities, fake, but surprisingly convincing, ones made their way to the streets as well. The California Republican Party has admitted to placing more than 50 falsely labeled drop boxes across Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange Counties. 

There is a stark contrast between the official drop boxes and the fake boxes, with the latter being dark grey metal boxes with a white paper label claiming that the box was an “Official Ballot Drop off Box” adorning the side. But to the average voter, they are virtually indistinguishable from the state sanctioned drop-off sites due to a general lack of informative resources. 

Tampering with a citizen’s right to vote is illegal, but the prospect of facing criminal charges was not enough to deter California’s Republicans from stealing away the ballots of unsuspecting Angelinos. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. A ballot box outside the Boston Public Library was set on fire last Sunday morning in a deliberate attempt to destroy the ballots residing within the box. 

This is not an isolated event. The same thing happened outside a library in Baldwin Park, California a week ago. Firefighters said that there was smoke billowing out of the box after what is suspected to be an act of arson. The city’s mayor estimated that as many as 100 ballots were destroyed or left invalid after an unknown person dropped a flaming newspaper into the box.

There are millions of people who will continue to suffer, even if the leadership in this country changes. ”

I wish I could say that this will be the worst of it, but with in-person voting quickly approaching, it’s important to remember that, even in early March, polling stations in more racially and economically diverse locations were shut down, and a large amount of marginalized voters— the majority of them Black or Latinx— were forced to drive farther out of their way and wait in ridiculously long lines to cast their ballots. 

So as we approach the deadline to vote, it’s important to make a plan; know where you’re voting and who you’re voting for. Regardless of who your vote is going to, this is an election you should be proud to be a part of.

There are millions of Americans who cannot vote. Maybe they’re too young, have been incarcerated, aren’t a citizen here, or are classified as mentally incapacitated in their state. And there are millions more who will continue to suffer, even if the leadership in this country changes. 

It’s not easy, or even possible, for some people to vote or to chose to support whichever candidate will hurt their community the least. I know it’s been incredibly hard for me to watch the country descend into chaos, sitting at the brink of fascism.

Hope feels like a foreign concept to me right now, but recognizing that change is not always immediate– and that we are doing our best to take baby steps in the right direction– makes it possible to build a country we can all be optimistic about.