By Jeffery Kurz
At the end of August last year I wrote a column about election integrity, wondering whether any Republican candidate ought to be asked about the claim the 2020 election was rigged and stolen. That is, any candidate at any level. “I’d be willing to give the dogcatcher a break,” I wrote, “but that’s about the end of that list for me.”
Because another election is afoot, and this one at the very local level, I wanted to check on that opinion piece and see whether my thinking on it had evolved to any degree. Any evolution is about emphasis. What’s important is any question that follows. If you think it was rigged, why? If you don’t, why? And the better question, a year later, is what can be done to protect our election process? Which is also saying, what can be done to protect our democracy?
Obviously those are questions for any candidate, Republican, Democrat or otherwise. And since we are on the verge of a municipal election, the answers to those questions and how we feel about them have an impact on our lives. The people we are about to elect to represent us will determine the taxes we pay, the education our children receive, the economic health of our neighborhoods, the health of our neighborhoods in general.
You have probably heard all this before. Municipal elections are important. Get out there and vote.
This time around there is an attention-grabbing election in Wallingford. For the first time in 40 years voters will have a choice that doesn’t include Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. But other elections in the area are important as well. Do Republicans in Southington deserve to have their majority extended? Has Mayor Kevin Scarpati earned another term in Meriden? What about the councils? What about the school boards?
All of these are good reasons to participate in an election. If Jan. 6 taught us anything it’s that our political process is precious. And more vulnerable than we may have thought. One way to respond to uncertainty and anxiety about our precious system is to participate in it. Voter turnout is a show of strength. We the People.
In that piece a year ago I mentioned that while you’re asking Republicans tough questions Democrats ought also to be asked about “the whole business of promoting Trump candidates.” As Newsweek had reported, Democrats spent a lot of money promoting “election deniers in their primaries” because of the idea they’d be easier to beat when it really counted. That was a lousy way to go about things, I said, and feel that way still. When you ask about the 2020 election you can ask candidates about that as well.
It’s an approach that can make people very cynical about elections, and that can make them not want to participate. But it would be a mistake to let that happen. The better response is to get more involved, not less.
Here’s how I ended last year’s column: “When you ask candidates about these things you’re reminding them the election process they’re now participating in is under threat. How they feel about it and what they think can be done are as important questions as any in 2022.”
The same holds true for 2023. I doubt now whether those questions will ever not need asking.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at firstname.lastname@example.org.