The progressive left — and even some self-proclaimed “true” conservatives on the right — like to paint everything that pushes the establishment envelope as somehow and in some way related to the noxious influence of Donald Trump.
They’ve so muddied those waters, in fact, that perfectly reasonable concerns — like the ones governing the audits in states where something pretty obviously hinky went on with the 2020 election (see: Georgia) — have become the purview of MAGA-hatted insurrectionists.
Or so they would like everyone to believe.
But the truth, to use the popular vernacular, is quite a bit more nuanced.
As Jack Fowler reports in National Review, purple state voters are clamoring for election reform without giving too much of a hoot whether Donald Trump supports it or not.
A survey conducted in April 2021 of Wisconsin voters on election integrity found that 66 percent of likely voters supported, among others things, auditing vote totals after elections in order to correct errors.
Why this strong demand for integrity, this determination to prevent election fraud — this demand for legislative action for reform? Surely it must have something to do with Donald Trump and relitigating the 2020 elections.
But as a new election-integrity study for the Frontier Center — “Beyond the Past: For Constitution and Community”– reveals, The Donald is nowhere to be found in the rationales given by right-of-center Badger State reform activists.
Uh-oh. That makes hating the audits in Arizona and Georgia a little harder without the Orange Villain playing the Joker overseeing the process.
Fowler explains that the Frontier Center uses the “laddering” technique, a smaller sample but deeper dive using an “interview process that uncovers heart-felt rationales behind beliefs.” (disclosure: Fowler’s on the board of the Center).
Here’s a sample of what the report concluded about Wisconsin — one of the most hotly contested states in the 2020 election, you may remember — and how voters there view efforts to shore up election integrity.
Wisconsinites who strongly support addressing Election Fraud are [more] focused on gauging the character, urgency of action, and responsiveness of their elected and unelected leaders as they relate to Election Fraud than on correcting rearward-looking outcomes.
[They are dedicated to] ensuring the system is intact for themselves and for the community of American voters participating in the institution, assurance that leaders understand the gravity of the challenge before them and will respond to their constituents, and a sign that this fundamental Constitutional assertion of the individual’s right to have a voice in the ruling of their country remains intact.
Voting is about more than seeing their choice prevail — it is a way to serve their country and provides a thrill of citizenship (empowerment and agency associated with your rights) that serves to counter demoralization about other institutions’ failures. Pursuing reform against a backdrop of fraud secures a heightened feeling of that empowerment associated with citizenship.
That sounds an awful lot like voters in Wisconsin have no problem separating their desire for a clean, fair election from the Donald Trump presidency and the Biden 2020 win.
“Sorry MSNBC, CNN, BLM, and all others who cast election reform as Jim Crow redux, and attack foes of H.R. 1 with boilerplate mantras about racism,” writes Fowler. “[What’s been] uncovered here is a literate and passionate defense of — and for — citizenship, and the harm it is dealt when election integrity is compromised. Also gleaned is a palpable ‘exuberance of freedom’ that citizens find in the act of voting — a thing diminished by fraud.”
Granted, the push to finally address problems within the American election system — widespread or simply scattershot through the states — was ramped up by the 2020 election and Trump’s podium-pounding insistence that the cheese smelled rotten. But the idea of election integrity has been around a lot longer than that; indeed, it’s part of the fabric of what makes voting in U.S. elections so special. We have been assured a reasonable chance our votes matter.
Sounds like Wisconsin, and doubtless other purple states, would like to make sure they still do.