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Illinois not immune to misguided claims of election fraud

It doesn’t matter that US security officials proclaimed the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure in American history.”

It doesn’t matter that more than 60 lawsuits brought by Donald Trump and his allies alleging election fraud were dismissed by judges across the country, including judges appointed by Trump himself.

It doesn’t matter that a group of prominent conservatives issued a 72-page report over the summer that dissected every accusation of fraud and misconduct in six battleground states and concluded Joe Biden legitimately won his seat in the Oval Office.

Some Americans simply cannot fathom, or admit, that Biden defeated Trump, as we pointed out last week in repudiating ring-wing activists’ shameful attempts to eliminate thousands of voter registrations and ballots for upcoming midterm races in mostly Democratic-leaning jurisdictions in Georgia, Texas and Michigan.

These efforts to incapacitate the democratic process in the name of “election integrity” have not, sadly, eluded our state.

The “stop the steal” crowd has proven relentless, infecting every part of our country with its arsenal of misinformation — even here in Illinois.

Swarms of form letters have been sent to election officials here threatening legal action for unsubstantiated claims of wrongdoing and voter fraud, WBEZ reporters Dan Mihalopoulos and Dave McKinney reported last week.

The letters, which of course offer no proof of misconduct, demand access to voter records the nonpartisan website Votebeat said cannot even be used to demonstrate fraud. But that detail isn’t important to these scribes, who sent the copycat missives to places across the country, including Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners, the Cook County clerk’s office and the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The objective is no different than the scams of out-of-state Republicans who want to bombard and wear out election officials with complaints that hold no water.

And like the push to “vet” voter rolls in swing states, the puppet masters behind the mass letter sending campaign are wealthy Trump-supporting election deniers, including My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Here in Illinois, Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey said there is no doubt Biden won the election fair and square. Still, he keeps pushing the narrative that election fraud is rampant and has vowed to get close to 4,000 poll watchers for the November general elections.

David Paul Blumenshine, the man Bailey enlisted to recruit poll watchers, so doesn’t deny the 2020 election results. But it is hardly comforting to know Blumenshine attended the Jan. 6 rally that descended into violent chaos at the US Capitol.

Crying wolf about nonexistent problems in the voting process is as detrimental as fraud.

“False charges corrode our democracy and leave a significant share of the population doubting the legitimacy of our system, seriously weakening the country,” as the conservative authors of the “Lost, Not Stolen” report put it.

A gold standard no more?

For years, America was seen as the gold standard for democratic ideals and political civility. Even when our elected officials made mistakes or disagreed in the past, there was a perception that all were striving for the greater good. Leaders in all corners of the globe looked to us as a model to emulate.

After Trump’s presidency and his and his supporters’ illegitimate claims of voter fraud, our counterparts abroad are no longer envious. Some might even turn to us as a template for less honorable causes.

Take Brazil, which held its first round of general elections over the weekend. Should he lose, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics,” is gearing up to contest the results.

As polls show him trailing, Bolsonaro’s allegations that the country’s elections are rigged and that electronic voting machines are faulty are gaining traction online. Election fraud and Trump are also being mentioned in countless messages by Bolsonaro supporters on the social media app Telegram, a recent investigation by the newspaper Estadãofound.

Sadly, it is a tale we all know too well. It’s bad enough that Americans who call themselves patriots are bent on setting the country on a collision course with reality. How sad that others around the world are also drinking from that poisonous well.

Let’s hope the voices of reason will ultimately prevail to drown out the lies.

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