Deen, Mrowicki face challengers in Windham 4

Mrowicki

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Facts do matter.

Whether it’s the latest baseless contention that President Biden wants to ban meat, or the ongoing unfounded contentions of election fraud, facts do matter.

Thankfully Vermont voters (and a majority of U.S. voters) are proving they don’t buy fact-less attempts to deceive, so it is “curiouser and curiouser” as to why there are ongoing attempts to spread fact-less opinions.

Across the nation, at least 60 cases have been brought to court alleging voter fraud in the last election and 60 have been dismissed for lack of facts. Free speech laws allow anyone to say pretty much anything in the court of public opinion. In a court of law, though, you can’t say just anything without evidence to back it up.

Sidney Powell, the former president’s lawyer, is finding that out, as she is being sued for defamation by voting machine manufacturer Dominion. Having to face the lack of facts in her public statements about Dominion’s products, she’s now changing her tune. Her legal case now is offering this statement: “No reasonable person would conclude that my statements were truly statements of fact.”

Even judges appointed by the former president, like U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann of Pennsylvania, ruled that the campaign’s charges of voter fraud were “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.” Judge Brann went on, “In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

Still, these unsupported claims across the nation are leading to expansion of the greater threat to our democratic republic, voter suppression, especially of BIPOC Americans. Forty-three states now have seen laws proposed that would limit access to voting under the guise of making elections more secure. This despite ongoing research from the Brennan Center at NYU Law School, turning up no widespread fraud that could swing an election. This includes states like Utah and Oregon which exclusively use vote by mail.

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Georgia, after electing both President Biden and two Democratic senators, has been among the most egregious in establishing voter suppression laws, most especially having an effect in urban areas predominantly populated by African-Americans. They’ve gone so far as to make illegal the act of giving water or food to voters who have been standing in line for hours. While the Bible quotes the Apostle James (2:15) as saying, “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink ...” apparently, this is not so, if you’ve been standing for hours in a Georgia voting line.

As misguided as these attempts at voter suppression are, does anyone really think this will do anything but further inspire BIPOC Americans to get out and vote?

And, right here in Vermont, as opinions continue to be offered (without evidence) suggesting voter fraud in Vermont, it suggests the lessons of the last election — that facts matter — are being lost.

In contrast to states attempting to suppress the vote, Vermont is working to continue expanding voter access. We want to build on the success of actions we started in last November’s election. An election that, despite a pandemic, resulted in record turnout.

We’re also working on actions that include giving voters the ability to “cure” a ballot that’s been mailed in. This would allow a voter who thinks they didn’t fill their ballot out according to the specifications of the law, or want to change their vote, to do so before the election.

And, in Brattleboro, after the town passed an amendment to the town charter to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in town elections, the Vermont House passed this charter change. It now awaits action in the Senate. The sentiment here is that letting voters start early creates lifelong voters — the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.

Once again, little ol’ Vermont is being a leader to increase access to the voting booth, while other states seek to limit it. Let’s help keep Vermont in the fore of voting rights and access, based on facts, because especially in regards to elections, facts do matter.

State Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D, serves the Windham 4 District towns of Putney, Dummerston and Westminster. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.