For American democracy to work, there is one element that is non-negotiable: our vote.
It is the great equalizer and the foundation of all democratic progress.
It is the most sacred right we have as citizens, giving us the ability to choose our future.
If we cannot trust that our votes will be counted accurately, we no longer have a democracy.
That’s why Donald Trump’s statement that there were “millions of people” who voted illegally for Hillary Clinton, which would otherwise have led him to win the popular vote, needs to be taken as deadly serious and not written off.
When the President-elect calls into serious question the integrity of our voting process, it is time to stop everything else we are doing and investigate with all the power of our justice system behind us.
It’s also vital to take as very serious the late-breaking shift of 20,000 votes in Philadelphia putting the election far closer in Pennsylvania, before any recount efforts.
In addition, we need to address the fact that in many of the key swing states there were large “red shifts” from exit polling towards Donald Trump in the final tallies.
Finally, we have to ask ourselves why Donald Trump’s allies are fighting Jill Stein’s recount efforts so aggressively with lawsuits
In addressing these facts, we must not forget that it is undeniably true that Russia had a very strong interest in this election, including hacking the DNC and funding the propagation of fake news. It has advanced cyber-warfare and hacking capacities. They could well have attempted to interfere directly.
Electronic voting machines also have demonstrated vulnerabilities, making it imperative to cross-check them versus the paper trail wherever possible.
If all the above were true in another democracy besides our own, it would be a natural conclusion that there is a real need for investigation.
It is understandable that our political leaders do not want to cause false alarms or undermine the confidence of the American people in our voting process.
But it is the deepest kind of betrayal of our rights as Americans that, with the kind of evidence that has already emerged and the unprecedented accusations that have been leveled (including by the declared victor), we are not yet seeing a rigorous audit and investigation.
This is a moment when we simply HAVE to investigate deeply. Enough doubt and mistrust of the integrity of our voting process have been raised that it will seriously undermine our future elections if we do not address it fully and rigorously in the next two weeks before the Electoral College meets, particularly focusing on the key swing states where irregularities could impact overall results.
If little to nothing is discovered, that is terrific. Then we can rest easy that we have done our civic duty to protect our democracy and we can put better systems and safeguards in place for future elections to ensure that our votes are fully protected.
And if voting manipulation has happened that has compromised the election results, we need to know that. It will permanently damage our democracy to elect the wrong person or betray the will of the voters.
We need to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that that is not the case. Right now, we have significant doubt on both left and right.
The only way to dispel that doubt is through a large-scale, rigorous auditing and investigation process in the next two weeks.
This should be activated from the very top, with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and President Obama leading the way. Ensuring a clean and fair election is the last and most important thing President Obama needs to do and he should not shrink from this leadership challenge because it is too messy or because it will result in some unrest.
And, if our government doesn’t step up, the investigation needs to at least be supported at the grassroots level by backing Jill Stein’s recount efforts, regardless of what we thought of her candidacy. She is helping to protect the sanctity of our vote and she deserves all of our support for that.
We only have two weeks. It is essential that this happens for the good not just of this election but for all our future elections.
It is time to get beyond fears of being “sore losers” to being patriots who are standing up for the integrity and sanctity of the single most important thing for our democracy to function: our vote.