Letter: U.S. election system is solid

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

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The right to vote is the life blood of any democracy. Free and fair elections ensure a peaceful transition of authority. Throughout my adult life as a U.S. citizen, I have witnessed peaceful transfers of presidential power. It is a moment of national pride to witness this grand achievement of democracy. The defeated president concedes and the newly elected president-elect stands before the podium to be sworn in by the chief justice. 

But in January 2021 it was different, a dignified transition was shattered. The former president never conceded and never participated in the inauguration event. When the president-elect stood before the chief justice, 21,000 National Guard soldiers were present, three times the normal number. The country was still reeling from the Jan. 6 insurrection. With people chanting “stop the steal,” they stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the outcomes of a free and fair election. Four protesters died, and according to the Capitol Police officers union, 140 officers were injured, and Officer Sicknick died after trying to defend the Capitol. Out of 700 arrests so far, 165 have pleaded guilty with over 70 sentenced, according to ABC news. The Capitol sustained $1.5 million in damages. “At least 2,000 made it inside the Capitol building.” Two hundred twenty-five accused rioters were charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees according to the DOJ. According to ABC, 75 of them face charges of “using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.” Also, a federal grand jury charged 11 defendants with seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. This included the leader of the Oath Keepers. 

Was the election stolen? According to former Attorney General William Barr regarding claims of fraud, “it was all (expletive).” Chris Krebs, a longtime Republican appointed by the previous president as head of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was fired by the same president. The firing came just a few days after CISA and other federal agencies declared the “2020 presidential election was the most secure in American history, with no evidence votes were deleted, lost, changed or in any way compromised.” 

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Those who perpetuate the claim of a fraudulent election dangerously undermine our cherished history of free and fair elections and threaten future peaceful transfers of presidential power. Our election system is solid. To claim otherwise is pure fiction, and people who make this claim are playing with fire. 

Joel B. Erickson

Albert Lea