Since Florida’s infamous hanging chad debacle in the 2000 election, voters are increasingly skeptical of the election process. Allegations of irregularities have cast shadows over the voting system in each subsequent election cycle. The climax came in 2016 when polls and the media predicted a certain candidate's victory with over 90% certainty, only to witness an unexpected outcome that left a non-politician triumphant.
Unprecedented challenges to our democratic process have come since then, reaching a crescendo in the 2020 election, the most tumultuous in our country's history. There we saw a seemingly sure candidate face defeat by an opponent who campaigned from the basement, drawing sparse crowds to campaign rallies. The election’s aftermath echoed claims of a rigged election, hacked machines, fake votes, altered registration records, ballot recounts, inflated voter numbers in certain areas, and allegations of algorithm manipulation.
It's essential to reflect on how we present these issues. Continually emphasizing a rigged system and the potential for manipulated votes risks conveying the message that individual votes don't matter. This narrative plays into the hands of the opposition, who capitalize on disillusionment to drive down voter turnout for the other side.
To reverse this trend, we must acknowledge concerns about the 2020 election, while also providing concrete facts and visible evidence. People grasp concepts better when they can visualize them. We need to assure voters that even if there were irregularities, the best way to counteract them is to participate in the democratic process. A red or blue wave is not guaranteed, nor is assurance of victory for any individual candidate; instead, the key to success lies in everyone exercising their right to vote, whether in person or through absentee ballots.
Addressing concerns about potential algorithms manipulating every seventh vote, consider this: even if there were such a hypothetical algorithm, every vote cast beyond the manipulated seventh one would still contribute positively. It's crucial to emphasize that, with enough votes, any algorithmic interference becomes inconsequential. There is, and always will be, strength in numbers.
As we approach the upcoming primary on March 5th, 2024, it's imperative that we act swiftly. Encourage friends, family, and community members to join you at the polls. Remind them that voting is a powerful way to ensure their voices are heard. By doing so, we contribute to the strength of our democracy and uphold the principles that make our nation resilient. Our Constitution makes it abundantly clear about the importance of voting – after all, voting is at the heart of the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments.
Alabamians need to remember that we have a new legislative session preparing to start. This session before the next general election is our chance to voice our wishes, loud and clear, to our representatives, demanding better election security, better voter registration rolls, and hand-counted ballots if the machines can’t be set up in such a way to assure every voter's vote is counted accurately. Even in this time of instant gratification, I know we can all wait until the next morning’s coffee time to find out a final ballot count, along with which candidate won a particular office.
Voters today need to become better acquainted with the candidates and issues on which they will be asked to vote. “I do not think the mere extension of the ballot a panacea for all the ills of our national life,” abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper said in 1893. “What we need to-day is not simply more voters, but better voters.”
With the complexity of issues today, her observation is needed now more than ever. Vote as if your city, county, state, and country depend on it – because they do.
Charles ‘Kip’ Kiplinger is the vice president of the North Central Alabama Republican Assembly.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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