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Safeguards should instill faith in results

Ballot counting that remains meaningful continues not only in the presidential race, but in local political races as well. As we write this, local ballots remain outstanding that could affect projected outcome of the 64th statehouse race between incumbent Democrat Michael J. O’Brien of Warren and Republican challenger Martha Yoder of Farmington. O’Brien is leading in the race by 370 votes with 1,416 ballots still waiting to be counted.

Also, in a close race, incumbent state Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, is losing to his Republican challenger Sandra O’Brien of Rome, Ashtabula County.

Undoubtedly, there are many other close races still to be determined that will affect constituents all over Ohio and the country.

This year’s close elections should serve as a stark reminder to all those involved in the election system about the importance of preserving the sanctity and inviolability of our elections.

There is a reason the state of Ohio, led by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, requires that equal numbers of poll workers representing the two major political parties volunteer at every polling location in Ohio. There also is a reason that ballot counting is never done in secret and with the utmost transparency. Of course, observation does not mean interference. We strongly believe Ohio’s voting safeguards may have helped prevent outside or improper interference better than the voting plans implemented in other states.

Still, many questions remain about the best way to guard against voter fraud, while still maintaining complete access to all voters who want to cast their ballots ­– even if they are unable to physically visit the polling place to do so.

Certainly, sending ballots to every registered voter makes our right to vote more accessible, but it likely also opens the door to fraudulent behavior. After all, how is it possible to guarantee that every ballot sent and returned by mail has reached only the designated recipient and was completed and returned only by that registered voter? Indeed, this is just one question that must be further investigated and debated with great urgency.

In all honesty, we realize it simply may be too late to find more effective ways to shore up the trust in this election. While we sincerely want to have faith in our elections, we know some elected officials, including our president, and many voters already are questioning the outcome. As long as the appearance or even the possibility of impropriety exists, sadly, doubt also will exist.

Election safeguards and guarantees must be the topic of great discussion and discourse now, well before the next election, or at least before the next presidential election.

For now, we turn to the local boards of elections to guarantee to all of us as Ohioans and as Americans that our duly completed and returned ballots are appropriately tracked and transparently counted, producing solid, trustworthy, accurate results.

This is America. Our election system is the very core of our democracy. In it, we must have faith.

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