OPINION: Election integrity matters

By John Rose
U.S. House of Representatives (6th District – Tennessee)

WASHINGTON – Voting is the beating heart of our republic, and every eligible, legal American citizen should have the opportunity to participate in our electoral system. That is a given. But this precious liberty is undermined when election integrity is not taken seriously and protections to defend it are not put in place. We must have an electoral process that not only protects our most sacred right but is a process that we can trust. We have the right to know when the integrity of that process is compromised and should investigate questionable practices, and certainly suspected fraud, to the fullest extent to ensure every ballot cast has been counted, and that every counted ballot is legitimate. This is true in every election and in every election year.

The cause for close inspection in 2020 is prompted first by a very tight race. That tight race coupled with the most expansive and significant mail-in voting response and state-sponsored solicitation of those votes in America’s history, has created a storm of justified concern from the presumed losers and frustration from the presumed winners.

We have learned a lot in the 2020 election about what doesn’t work, and the universal mail-in voting test has resulted in chaos. It is well documented that mail-in ballots increase the danger of fraud, abuse and administrative errors in counting votes. Many ballots went to wrong addresses, old addresses or were never received at all. We have also heard numerous accounts of citizens who say they showed up at the polls on election day to vote only to learn that someone, somewhere had already fraudulently voted in their name via mail-in ballot.

These deeply troubling claims are the impetus for my two letters to United States Attorney General William Barr urging him to use Justice Department resources to ensure the integrity of the 2020 Presidential election. With widespread reports of irregularities, particularly in the vote counting process, it is imperative that the Justice Department use its resources to ensure that any illegal, fraudulent activity associated with the election process is investigated and pursued in order to maintain the integrity of the election. I believe every American, in both parties, should want this investigation to take place to ensure we have an honest election, and the ultimate winner may move forward with the confidence of all Americans, not just slightly more than half of all Americans. That is not good enough.

Our nation has been in a state of uncertainty since Election Day and efforts to take political advantage of that uncertainty by nationalizing our elections through federal mandates are reckless at best and permanently damaging to our democracy at worst. The same Washington bureaucrats and politicians who have taken every measure possible to hinder our President for the past four years through phony investigations, a sham impeachment trial, and even blaming him for American deaths in a global pandemic are now urging those of us who voted for the President to move on and embrace Joe Biden as President even in the face of potential fraud. 

Individual states should maintain responsibility for their voting laws. However, we should promote fairness and transparency in this and every election, by implementing commonsense protections such as witness signatures on absentee ballots, official postmarks, in-person voting by all who are able and photo ID at polling locations and with absentee ballots to ensure that every legal vote is counted. These protections are intended to ensure that we have transparent and secure elections, so the American people have faith in the legitimacy of our election process. 

Our nation will suffer if we allow partisanship to come before what should be a nonpartisan goal of ensuring the integrity of our elections. Elections must simultaneously determine a winner while also causing the loser and their supporters, however disappointed they might be, to trust and accept the outcome. Americans are resilient and have long accepted that you win some and you lose some. But a rigged game is not one we will accept.

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