I agree with the statement lawyer Robert Huskey made in his opinion column of Jan. 24th, 2021:  “….voter integrity in this country is key to our form of government and without the reliability and credibility of our voting process and its implementation the faith in our elections is undermined as well as our system of government itself.” 

Unfortunately, “voter integrity” only applies to those who get to vote.  Others that have their “right” to vote suppressed for any reason won’t feel much integrity in “our system of government” – and haven’t for decades and longer.  You see, citizens not integrated, fully included in “our system of government” are considered challengers to entrenched power, and will be stopped by those in power from voting by any means possible, even if it means making new “laws” to make the suppression “legal”.  No wonder many citizens extremely dislike politicians.

Tennessee has a long legacy of voter suppression.  Most of it was racist in nature.  Jim Crow and newer laws codified (legalized) ways of taking certain type of citizen’s right to vote away, and even after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (a monumental task which most southern legislatures and politicians opposed), there are still byzantine laws on the books severely impairing some citizens’ ability to regain their voting rights after losing them.  The Tennessean reports that throughout history “more than one in five Black Tennesseans has been disenfranchised in this way.”

Former-president Trump still insist he was cheated out of re-election by fraudulent voting.  In fact he said it so much during the presidential transition period that it fomented an insurrection against American democracy while Congress was performing its sworn duty to certify that very same election.  Can you say attempted coup?  Senator Cruz had a “right” to object to election results in Arizona (why he had to make the objection vs. an Arizona Senator is a good question), but since no instance of voter fraud that would merit reversal of any election results was every found, even after 60 plus lawsuits by the Trump administration failed (including the ones in the four states Republicans really wanted to reverse) – including many in front of Trump-appointed judges (probably called traitors by Republicans now), the only reason Senator Cruz would object to certifying electors in the first place was because he, many otherwise good Republicans, and the insurrectionists all bought into the same con about election fraud Trump constantly pushed for 9 weeks after the election. Can you say incitement? And now 28 state legislatures around the country have over 100 bills under consideration to revamp (further suppress) voting rights of certain citizens or citizen groups so that Republicans won’t be “cheated” again.  Talk about lack of integrity! 

Even though some politicians think that voting is a privilege, voting is a right of citizenship – now for every citizen of age.  Politics is a dirty business and those in political power will do anything they can, in the name of whatever excuse they want to dream up as “truth”, to stay in power.  America has never done a great job adhering to the one-man-one-vote theme, although over the long haul it is getting better.  Case in point:  50% of our population – women – did not even get to vote until 1920 because they were “not equal” to men.  And let’s not even get started on the still on-going gerrymandering initiatives (done by both parties, mind you) to further legalize ways of cheating in elections. The citizenry ought to be outraged – not because any massive fraud might occur – but because of the status quo.  Yes, things need fixin’.

Tennessee voted for Trump over Biden by a 60.72 to 37.42% margin. Coffee County went for Trump by a 76.3 to 23.5% margin. National polls indicate that 50% of Trump voters, even after Congressional certification of Biden as President, still think the election was stolen and fraudulent, so that means that there are over 8,931 Coffee County voters that still believe Trump won. The word “integrity” is losing its luster fast.

If we could send people to the moon in 1969 with less computing power than what is in my iPhone, then surely we can figure out a way to get everyone registered to vote, while ensuring that they all have access to the way of voting that is best for them, so that everyone could vote every time, including with great voter security.  How wonderful for American democracy that would be! We could, but people in political power, especially at the state level, want to stay in power, appease the herd instead of leading – in other words, maintain the status quo - and so won’t let that happen. Perfect integrity. Now, you can get really mad if you want.

Last thing on integrity: can incompetence have integrity? If you are Republican and are wondering about the abilities of your party right now, ponder this:  If – and this is only an if for argument’s sake – the Democrats were able to steal the presidential election right out from under the nose of Mr. “Only I can fix it”, why would any American want to be governed by the Republican party that was so incompetent that it could not find out about the fraud as it was being planned, or stop the fraud as it occurred, or, in the end, provide proof of fraud so that the results would be corrected? Surely, Trump’s buddy Vladamir Putin, with all his state-sponsored Communistic resources, could have found out and let Trump know what was happening! But, alas, we live in red Tennessee, and until the next election, we don’t have a choice but to be governed by Trump’s party.  Still, I feel the winds of change are a’blowing.