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My Turn: The big lie of voter fraud

The Big Lie is “a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda tool by a politician or official body,” according to Wikipedia.

Adolph Hitler coined the German expression in Mein Kampf and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels raised it to a high art, claiming “if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it and you will even come to believe it yourself.” And by all means, make it an audacious one.

A good example of the Big Lie is the Republican Party’s contention that voter fraud is rampant in the U.S. and has compromised our elections. It is a lie told over many years, culminating in an insurrection in our Capital on January 6 to undermine a fair election.

The seeds for that day were planted in 2016 when Donald Trump claimed that he lost the popular vote only because of voter fraud. He assembled a voter fraud commission, which included an investigation of alleged busloads of Massachusetts Democratic voters crossing the NH border to vote in the Granite State. But the commission did not find evidence of voter fraud, as exemplified by the NH investigation, which debunked the claims.

The Big Lie was taken to a new level with a “Stop the Steal” campaign leading up to the 2020 election. After the election, the loser filed multiple lawsuits, as was his right. Again, he could not prove his assertions in court because he didn’t have the evidence to support them.

Currently the Big Lie is being used at the state level as the rationale behind more than 250 voter suppression bills in 43 states, including New Hampshire. That’s quite a cynical maneuver. Use the Big Lie to undermine voter confidence and then propose solutions to fix “the problem.” No evidence required.

I was present (via Zoom) at the hearing of one such NH bill (HB 86) where the Big Lie was affirmed yet again. A Republican legislator testified that thousands of Maine residents had illegally crossed the border to vote in NH in 2020. He offered no evidence and left before anyone could ask him questions. Isn’t that 2016 all over again?

The NH attorney general’s office researches all election complaints and irregularities. You can go to their website and read each investigation result. Why has the attorney general not raised any red flags about voter fraud? Because there isn’y any statistically significant evidence of it. If you need more confirmation of that read the Brennan Center for Justice’s The Truth About Voter Fraud. There are plenty of other studies concluding the same thing.

Some states have actually chosen to make it easy to register and vote. In Oregon anyone who applies for a driver’s license or a non-driver ID is immediately registered to vote (in both cases you must prove you are a U.S. citizen with a valid state address). They’ve had mail-in voting since 1987 with only a dozen cases of confirmed voter fraud in over 30 years.

Contrast that to Georgia where Republican voter suppression efforts will result in fewer voters, long lines on voting day and criminal charges against any person who provides food or water to those standing in line. Their laws target people of color, the poor and the disabled.

As Madeleine Albright once said, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” It can be maintained only by citizen vigilance, something our state’s youth understand. After being betrayed by Gov. Sununu on HB 1264 in 2020, which restricted student voting, students attended hearings remotely on three restrictive bills in 2021. So great was their number and testimony that all three bills were either voted down or retained.

The Republican response? They voted along party lines to recommend killing HB 216, which proposed to make remote access to legislative hearings permanent (not just the result of the governor’s emergency order). So much for transparency and public access.

The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security, said the election was “the most secure in American history,” for which he was fired by Donald Trump. Republicans have not heeded the good advice of Republican Mitt Romney, offered the day after the January 6 insurrection to ”Tell Americans the truth,” that the election was legitimate.

But instead they cling to the Big Lie, proposing bills that make it harder to register and to vote. Instead of trying to win voters with good policies for all Americans, they intend to obstruct and to win elections by disenfranchising people who won’t vote for them. The NH election district maps will be redrawn this fall. It’s time to demand transparency and adequate time for citizen input.

(Allan MacDonald lives in New London.)

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