We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all local officials responsible for running smooth and incident-free primary and general elections this year – especially given the political, administrative and public health pressures they were under from Day One while doing their duty to collect and count a record number of ballots at a time in our nation where all politics, it seems, has been poisoned.

Whether by mail, by drop-off or via in-person balloting during early voting and Election Day itself, our local officials and volunteers made the process free of controversy and scandal – and kept the public as safe as possible during a pandemic.

To our ever-vigilant poll workers and county clerks, thank you from the bottom of our collective heart for serving democracy with the dignity and respect it deserves.

Unfortunately, not everyone up the ladder got the message.

What is happening now at the federal level, with President Trump unsuccessfully challenging votes in states that he lost with bogus and frivolous lawsuits and the political pressure of the office he holds, is distressing to say the least and – with the whole world watching – damaging our nation’s standing and the very democracy that guarantees our free speech by way of the ballot box.

Casting a ballot is the single most powerful act a citizen can perform, and now the president and his henchmen are attempting to undermine that, to subtract the voices of millions of people after he was denied a second term in a record-setting vote. If this matter weren’t so serious, so fundamental to who we are as a free and open society, his clumsy and ham-handed legal response to denigrate what we hold dear would be laughable.

We all know – the president knows, too – who won this election. And how do we know? If there had been massive fraud, wouldn’t he and our government be checking all states for evidence?

But they are not. 

But that has not stopped President Trump or his political sycophants from attempting to gum up a Constitution that he swore to defend.

Be vigilant, good citizen. The president is not acting alone, and even though some here in West Virginia may be far removed from the non-story coming out of the Oval Office, they no less are adding to the overarching narrative the president is trying to write.

Gov. Jim Justice, bucking up his big buddy in the White House, has said he will not recognize Joe Biden as president-elect until “all legal votes” are counted. Funny, he did not say that four years ago when Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

What has changed? Oh, yes, Big Jim was a Democrat back then.

Early this spring, when the state opened absentee balloting as a safety precaution to avoid the spread of Covid-19, the governor said such ballots were ripe for fraud – echoing, who else, his friend in the White House.

Secretary of State Mac Warner, the guy we entrust with running our elections, was saying the same thing, casting doubt about a process that he was elected to manage.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University concluded, by the way, that there is no evidence that mail balloting increases electoral fraud.

And now comes Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, who recently said that West Virginia must act to prevent voter fraud in the state.

“West Virginia already has various laws aimed at preventing election fraud. It is illegal to harvest ballots, to offer unsolicited advice or assistance in filling out ballots, and certainly vote buying is illegal,” Blair said.

He went on, warning of loopholes and criminals and exploitation of the process and the need to prosecute anyone for manipulating the vote – without any evidence that any of that had happened.

Facts and evidence are difficult concepts for some in the political class.

Well, yes, there was the West Virginia postal carrier who was caught – we repeat, he was caught – by election officials during the primary and pleaded guilty to mail and election fraud after admitting he changed the political affiliation on a handful of voter ballot requests – not a ballot – from Democrat to Republican.

And that was it for the massive and systemic voting fraud in the state this year.

And that is exactly what vote recounts and audits and canvasses are finding now in other states: Nothing, nadda, nilch.

To top it off, federal election infrastructure officials – the professional public servants and not the politicians – said in a joint statement a week ago  Thursday that the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history.”

The statement from the agencies said “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” the statement said. 

 And for that, instead of doubting their work, we will say thank you, once again, to any and all who stepped in to make this record-setting election run as smoothly and cleanly as it did.

Democracy works – thanks to them.

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