Record editorial: Efforts to undermine Utah’s mail-in voting system are the true threat to democracy
Utah’s vote-by-mail system has been a tremendous success in the half-decade it’s been in place.
It has increased voter turnout. It’s unquestionably more convenient than waiting in line to cast a ballot in person. And it allows voters, who can take practically as much time as they want to fill out their ballot, to be more informed about the candidates and issues.
Yet there are several troubling attempts underway — some involving members of the Statehouse — to call into question the security of mail-in voting based on falsehoods about the danger of voter fraud. Among them are an effort to end vote-by-mail through a statewide ballot measure, a bill in the Legislature that would do the same thing and legislation that would require the surveillance of ballot drop boxes.
The push to undermine vote-by-mail is likely to fail, at least in the immediate term. Utahns broadly support it, and both the governor and lieutenant governor — who is in charge of administering elections — have voiced full-throated support for the system, standing adamant that elections in this state are safe and secure.
Yet the campaign to present vote-by-mail as some sort of threat to democracy is harmful nonetheless, spreading misinformation and possibly leading to increased skepticism about the credibility of our elections.
Utahns should call on all members of the Legislature — Republican and Democrat — to forcefully reject the falsehoods. While there will always be a certain segment of the population that believes in the conspiracy theory that voter fraud is a widespread problem, and that vote-by-mail leaves us vulnerable to it, our leaders standing up in defense of the truth would go a long way to reassuring Utahns that they can trust election results.
The issue is not unique to Utah, of course. In the wake of former President Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 presidential election, many states have conducted audits in an effort to imply that the result was not legitimate or, worse, passed laws that needlessly tighten restrictions on voting.
Fortunately, our state’s leaders have so far resisted such measures. But that doesn’t make the misinformation about the security of vote-by-mail any less troubling.
As Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson put it at a recent town hall in Spanish Fork, according to The Salt Lake Tribune: “If we can’t rely on being able to go to the ballot box and voice our displeasure or our satisfaction through our vote, then we’ve lost our republic.”
She’s not wrong. And the plain truth is that the attempts to sow doubt about mail-in voting and the security of our elections are the true threat, rather than a voting system that has proven to be safe, secure and successful.
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