Democracy survived another test this week in West Virginia. That is worth noting, since the integrity of our elections in the country has been under assault since 2020.
The latest trumped up grievance about the last presidential election comes from Dinesh D’Souza’s new “documentary” 2000 Mules. The film claims that geo-location data of cellphones show Democrats organized individuals to illegally collect and drop off ballots in key battleground states.
Fact-checkers have pointed out myriad flaws in the assertions. However, the film will play well among Trump loyalists in this post-truth era. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Citizen Kane. When the results show Kane losing the election, the editors of his newspaper prepare for the next day’s edition with the headline, “Fraud at Polls.”
The execution of the Primary Election in West Virginia this week was notable for its lack of drama and absence of allegations of shenanigans. Polls opened and closed on time, voters cast their ballots, votes were counted, and results were released. In fact, all 1,680 precincts in all 55 counties had reported in and been tabulated before midnight Tuesday.
Typically, something goes wrong somewhere that makes for an all-nighter at the courthouse, but not this time. The state’s “See Something, Text Something” election hotline only received a handful of complaints.
West Virginia’s election officials—Secretary of State Mac Warner, individual county clerks, and their staffs—deserve tremendous credit. They faced the daunting task of managing the redistricting of political boundaries, ensuring that voters were in the correct precinct and that they knew where to vote.
The Secretary of State’s interactive map and the clerks’ efforts to notify voters worked well. Yes, there was some confusion because of the new districts, but most of those problems were easily resolved on Election Day.
Of course, the election is not over because the results are unofficial. County commissioners of each county must meet as the county’s board of canvassers to review provisional ballots. The canvas is conducted in public so candidates who had razor-tight races and anyone from the public can watch the process.
After that, second place finishers can ask for a recount. That may happen in several races across the state where the pre-canvas shows just a few votes separate first and second place.
When that is completed and the results are finalized, candidates and voters can be satisfied that the results are accurate, even if they are not happy with the outcome. That assurance is vital for maintaining faith in our free and fair elections.
Yes, a higher turnout would better reinforce the belief that winners have the support of a majority of the voting population and, yes, nasty campaign ads are a turnoff for many voters. However, West Virginians can have confidence that the results from Tuesday do, in fact, reflect the will of the those who voted.