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Other View: Donald Trump’s lies put election workers through hell. That makes voting less secure

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Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before the U.S. House Select Committee's fourth hearing on its Jan. 6 investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS
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Of all the stunning revelations emerging from hearings of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, 2021, the testimony from those facing physical threats is the most disturbing.

Tuesday, a Georgia election worker named Shaye Moss told the committee, and the nation, that her life has been changed forever because of the vicious attacks she faced after the 2020 election.

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Moss had been falsely accused of mishandling ballots in Georgia. Abusive supporters of Donald Trump’s election lies soon made her life hell.

“I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way,” she told the committee. “All because of lies.”

Someone showed up at her grandmother’s house to execute a “citizen’s arrest,” whatever that means. Many of the criticisms were racist, Moss said.

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Others testifying Tuesday told stories of harassment and threats. Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers — a Republican — said abusive zealots showed up in his neighborhood while his terminally ill daughter rested at his home. “It was disturbing. It was disturbing,” Bowers said.

“There was nowhere I felt safe. Nowhere,” said Ruby Freeman, Moss’s mother. She, too, was an election worker.

These stories should outrage every American. They should also remind us of how public servants should be treated by all of us, particularly those who work to make sure elections, and election results, are safe and secure.

There is no reason — none — that anyone should threaten anyone else with physical violence or death. For any reason, at any time. It’s appalling to believe that abuse can or should be a part of any political or social dialogue.

Election workers have an especially difficult job. Registering tens of thousands of voters, under difficult deadlines, is onerous. Machinery and databases are often old, largely because of the reluctance of elected officials to upgrade equipment. There is little margin for error.

Front-line workers at polling places are even more vulnerable. Almost all of them are part-time employees who step forward to work elections, for maybe $100 or $150. They deserve our thanks, not threats or abuse.

Elections are the most important thing we do in the country. They must be protected, at all times.

Does that mean election workers, and other public officials, should be beyond criticism? Of course not. Reasonable concerns, discussed reasonably in the proper place, at the proper time, are essential to self-government. We believe in that.

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But violence? Verbal abuse? Vile behavior? Death threats? There is no place, and no time, where that is reasonable or acceptable. To abuse others in the service of election lies makes it even worse, if that’s possible.

In about six weeks, hundreds of thousands of Missourians and Kansans will go to the polls to make their choices known. That’s the real miracle of self-government, which survives despite an overwhelming assault by the former president and his fellow travelers.

The Jan. 6 hearings are a reminder of the threat that process faces, and democracy itself. Americans must face that threat, and reject it.

©2022 The Kansas City Star
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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