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Get out and vote!

Voting is the most fundamental right and responsibility of the American citizen. It’s an opportunity for each of us to pick the leadership of our country, and it’s what makes America a democracy; without free and fair elections, we cease to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy, and it should be free politicization and partisanship. The first priority of every leader should be ensuring that all eligible voters can safely vote. Unfortunately, our president is doing the opposite. He is attempting to cast doubt on the election’s legitimacy and suppress votes in order to improve his chances of remaining in power.

Mail-in voting is especially important in this election to protect public health. But President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Attorney General William Barr have repeatedly and falsely claimed that voting by mail causes fraud that will lead to a “rigged” election.

There is no evidence supporting these claims. A Washington Post analysis of absentee voter fraud in three vote-by-mail states (Colorado, Oregon, Washington) during the 2016 and 2018 elections found 372 instances of fraud out of 14.6 million total votes (0.0025%). The national investigative Voting Rights Project discovered only 491 instances of absentee voter fraud nationwide between 2000 and 2012.

In September, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before congress on the risk of voter fraud, and was very clear: “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.” Voting fraud is possible, but it’s difficult and extremely rare. There is no evidence to suggest mail-in-voting threatens the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

President Trump has a history of welcoming foreign election interference when it benefits him. He refuses to confront Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, and in 2019, he attempted to coerce Ukraine into helping him in the 2020 election.

But, attempting to stifle the votes of American citizens reaches a new level of corruption. A real leader doesn’t pedal baseless conspiracies, suppress the voices of Americans, or try to cheat the democratic process. A real leader, who believes in democracy, wants the voices of the American people heard and has the courage and integrity to respect the legitimately voted decision of the people.

President Trump has also said that he may refuse to honor the election results if he loses. This admission alone, should eliminate him from consideration for a second term. Our government depends upon the orderly and peaceful transition of power. Refusing to concede electoral defeat is undemocratic and un-American.

If the president loses the election, refuses to honor its results, and succeeds in retaining power by using rouge force against the American people, we would no longer have a president. We would be ruled by a dictator who is above the will of the people. The United States would cease to be a democracy.

Fortunately, the power is in our hands. If we vote the Trump administration out in a landslide, it will be very difficult for an unlawful power grab to occur.

To everyone who is frustrated with our politics, politicians, and policy – you have every right to be angry. To the members of my generation, young people who are sick and tired of political nonsense and our government’s failure to fight for our future – you are right. The United States has never been perfect, but over the past four years, the executive branch has fundamentally failed to uphold American values and serve the American people.

But that’s democracy – we elected someone unfit to serve, now we have the opportunity to correct this with our votes. For all of the imperfections and suboptimal outcomes of democracy, I can think of no better system of government.

So, disenfranchised and discouraged Americans, don’t give up. Don’t become apathetic or complacent. Don’t underestimate the potential for things to get much, much worse. But don’t forget that you have the power to make things better. Vote by mail or vote in person, vote in whichever way is safest for you. Vote to uphold American principles and protect our democracy. The future is what we make it.

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