OPED: Rigged conspiracy theory bad for democracy

Suzanne Almeida
League of Women Voters

Pennsylvanians are tired. We are tired of the negativity, we are tired of the partisan polarization, and we are tired of allegations that our elections are rigged.

Suzanne Almeida, Esq.

The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, a grassroots civic engagement and voter empowerment organization that never supports or opposes any candidate or party, has been working hard to reassure Pennsylvanians that they can trust in our election process and encouraging them to turn out and vote on Election Day. We are working with a coalition of other non-partisan groups to educate voters about their rights at the polls and to make sure we have resources in place, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline to help address any questions or problems that voters may have on Election Day.

The League has long been a leading voice for election reform; in fact, we got our start advocating for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and giving women the tools they needed to vote for the first time. Nearly a century later, we are still fighting to ensure that all those who are eligible to cast a ballot have access to the voting booth.

Voting is a cornerstone of American democracy. Unfounded, irresponsible claims of voter fraud and rigged elections undermine our democracy by throwing into doubt the very process by which we select our leaders. The more eligible voters who cast a ballot on Election Day, the stronger our democracy becomes. Any attempt to keep eligible voters from the polls, whether through fearmongering, coded racial rhetoric, intentionally or unintentionally spreading false or misleading information, or any other so-called “voter suppression tactic” is undemocratic and unacceptable.

Disagreement, even strong disagreement, about what is best for our country, who is best suited to lead us, and the direction in which we should be moving is part of our democratic system of government. Conspiracy theories are not.

To be clear, ensuring that all eligible voters can vote is not a Republican, Democratic, Independent, or Green Party issue. This is a Pennsylvanian issue. This is an American issue.

In Pennsylvania, the League, along with the other forty members of the Keystone Votes coalition has been working to improve our democracy through modernizing the way that our elections are run. The furor around our electoral process this cycle makes this work more important than ever. Rather than focusing on the false and misleading allegations of rigged elections, democracy would be better served by looking at how we can make our elections more cost efficient and more accessible to all eligible voters.

Commonsense reforms, such as optional-vote-by-mail, pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, early voting, and same day registration are efficient, effective ways to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a ballot. The vast majority of other states have already successfully enacted one or all of these reforms; it’s past time for Pennsylvania to catch up.

Modernizing the way we conduct elections is good for Pennsylvania. Ensuring that doctors, nurses, farmers, shift-workers, caregivers, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and other people who struggle to make it to the polls on election day have a voice in choosing their representative must be a priority, if we are to be a model of democratic values for the rest of the world.

— Suzanne Almeida is the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of PA.