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Friday, February 26, 2021

Election security is too important to cast aside post-inauguration

Congress has now certified the election in favor of President Biden, and former President Donald Trump has peacefully handed over power, continuing our centuries-old tradition that has existed since George Washington left office in 1797.

In the wake of the tragic events that occurred on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, I believe it is time our nation begins a much-needed healing process. As part of the process, it is imperative that we address the irregularities and misconduct that have littered our elections for too long and that led millions of people, Republican and Democrat alike, to question the electoral process and the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Voters deserve to be able to cast their votes with confidence and to trust in the electoral process and outcome, irrespective of which candidate or party comes out on top. Every legal vote must be counted, and those that are illegal must be set aside, as we cannot allow legal votes to be invalidated by them.

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Unfortunately, we know that was not the case in Georgia and in several other states that similarly grappled with numerous allegations of fraud, video footage of poll workers’ questionable conduct, and hamstrung court cases. But most detrimental to our elections is the fact that so many states allowed fringe operators to bypass the power of their legislative bodies, and in doing so, knowingly trampled the U.S. Constitution.

In my home state of Georgia, we saw one of the most egregious examples in the country of the state’s legislative powers being overruled. In March 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger entered into a Compromise Settlement Agreement and Release with the Democratic Party of Georgia, unilaterally altering the state’s statutory requirements for the examination and authentication of signatures on absentee ballots.

This agreement effectively bypassed the signature verification requirement mandated by Georgia law — a clear violation of Article II, section 1, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, as well as state law itself, which mandates that any election regulation must be “consistent with law.”

In response to the many allegations of election fraud and malfeasance, Raffensperger sent some of my colleagues in the Georgia delegation a letter on Jan. 6 that stated, “There is nowhere close to sufficient evidence to put in doubt the result of the presidential contest in Georgia.”

But Raffensperger is missing the point. He did not say evidence of fraud did not exist. We can all agree that the 2020 presidential race was a highly unusual election across the board due to events both inside and outside of the government’s control. Combined with the unusual number of allegations, it is easy to see why so many people have lost faith in our democratic process. We cannot simply ignore this fact by putting the allegations off-limits to investigation.

My greatest fear is that people across the country will see their vote as worthless and give up on casting their ballots in the future due to the lack of political will to address this issue. As we move forward as a country, it is imperative that we address the allegations and fix any problems that exist so that we are never in this position again.

I am pleased that many of my colleagues in the Georgia Assembly, including Speaker David Ralston, are making election security a top priority for the current legislative session. I will do everything within my power to lend my support to my colleagues under the gold dome in Atlanta as they work to fix the serious problems with our state’s election system. I would encourage my fellow members of Congress to do the same in their respective states.

Whether you agree with my decision to object to the electoral votes or not, I do hope that you agree we must not allow the fraud, irregularities, and misconduct to become commonplace just because it can’t be shown to have changed an election outcome. If we do, the underpinnings of our republic will erode before our eyes.

It is up to our elected leaders in Washington and at the state level to restore confidence in our democracy and allow our country to bridge the divide that exists between us. America’s people and our republic deserve nothing less.

Andrew Clyde represents Georgia’s 9th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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