In the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, one of our third graders came home from school with a short children’s magazine explaining the election process. In it, the author described some attributes of good voters and related them to how children could put these into practice now.
The last section featured a photo of two smiling children holding soccer balls. The attribute? Voters are good sports. The sentiment was that elections, like sports, have winners and losers. If your team loses, be a good sport and “say good job” to the winner.
Just like in sports, the peaceful transition of power — a cornerstone of our democracy — requires that all sides involved in the election process acknowledge the victory of the winner. This ensures the legitimacy of the election. It doesn’t mean you are happy with the outcome, but it sets up the process to start over again in four years.
We are now two months past that election. Thousands of poll workers and elections officials have worked tirelessly to make this what one government security agency described as “the most secure in American history.” Former Attorney General William Barr stated that the FBI investigated election results and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Our nonpartisan courts have heard and rejected dozens of lawsuits regarding this election and have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome. State election officials and governors have certified the results, the Electoral College has voted, and only the final steps in the process remain.
As a bipartisan group of senators (including Utah’s Mitt Romney) make clear, “The 2020 election is over. All challenges through recounts and appeals have been exhausted. At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results. ... It is time to move forward.” All 10 living former secretaries of defense have signed an op-ed urging a peaceful transition of power.
And yet, here, at the tail end of this process, we see partisan politics attempting to interfere with our election process. The plan by a group of GOP members of Congress to attempt to reject the electoral vote certification based on no evidence is a blatant misuse of congressional power for political pandering. No less concerning is the unprecedented attempt by a sitting president to pressure elected officials into changing election results, as evidenced by President Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia secretary of state.
This effort is not only unethical, but shortsighted. In a memo to Congress, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney correctly points out that contesting the Electoral College vote sets a dangerous precedent if the federal government attempts to override a state’s authority to elect its own representatives. Seven House Republicans released a statement arguing that Republican presidents depend on the Electoral College (since 1988, Republican presidential candidates have only once won the popular vote), and undermining this system may undermine future Republican presidents. Moreover, their support of the Electoral College reflects their sworn oath to “promote the Constitution above our policy goals.”
As Mormon women committed to ethical government, we applaud Sen. Romney and Rep. John Curtis for publicly denouncing the plan to challenge the Electoral College votes. We ask Sen. Lee and Rep. Blake Moore to join them. We also express our disappointment in Rep. Chris Stewart and recently elected Rep. Burgess Owens, who have demonstrated their partisan priorities over the health of our democracy by supporting this challenge.
While we agree with Stewart’s claim that President-elect Joe Biden deserves to enter office without a cloud of controversy hanging over him, the fault for that controversy lies not with the election itself but with Republican officials who continue to resort to rumor and conspiracy theories to challenge the election, rather than verifiable evidence.
This week marks Utah’s 125th anniversary of statehood. We are proud of our state’s long distinguished tradition of bipartisan service in support of our nation. We ask our representative officials to honor that tradition and support the integrity of this and future elections by standing against fraudulent claims that have no basis in reality.
Melarie Wheat is co-lead for the Utah chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government. A graduate of BYU, she is a former homeless services caseworker turned stay-at-home mom to five young children. Rosalyn Eves is an English professor, author of several young adult books, and mother of three living in southern Utah.