NOTE: This piece is part of a collection of local essays on elections and trust.
There is no reason to believe that our nation’s elections are untrustworthy. Federal election officials have stated that the 2020 presidential election was in fact the most secure election to ever take place in American history. One of, if not the biggest, reasons why so many people believe that elections are not secure is due to rampant misinformation that is being believed.
This semester, I put on an event for my senior seminar class. The event consisted of bringing in three locally elected officials (two county clerks and a state representative) to talk about the subject of election security. One of my panelists suggested that trust in elections — whether that be local, state or national — can be traced back to the confidence, or lack thereof, in local newspapers and local reporting.
As for what can be done to restore lost faith in elections, it comes down to our reporters and our politicians. If we continue to have news outlets outright lie to the public about unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, faith in elections will only continue to deteriorate.
During this past year, it has become evident that people can be presented with facts and blatantly ignore them if they choose. People continue to say that the presidential election was stolen, even though this has been proven false many times over. People have chosen to take medical advice from politicians or podcasters instead of medical personnel who have dedicated their entire lives to science.
Up is not down. A red light is not a green light. Truths are proven by demonstrable facts. Assertions require evidence to become true. Until we have more people who are willing to tell the truth and do the right thing, our very democracy remains at stake.