Our local election won’t be ‘rigged’

Much ado these days from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about the Nov. 8 election being “rigged” against him.

One leg of Trump’s claim is the alleged unfair coverage by the media that ignores negative stories about his opponent, Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, while it hammers his campaign with untrue, made up and unsubstantiated stories.

Since we have a free and independent press in America, media outlets have the choice to allow some stories to pass through while others are held back, and we encourage those who exercise this common, everyday gatekeeper function to do so in an honest, fair and ethical manner. Coverage of national events such as the presidential campaigns is well beyond this newspaper’s scope and reach, so we do not have to shoulder those allegations.

Another leg of Trump and his supporter’s claim is “massive voter fraud,” especially in the larger cities. They fear votes cast by dead people, thousands of voters bused in from other states and undocumented immigrants who will vote for the Democrat candidate will tip the balance and steal this election from them. Some even claim voting machines have been manipulated to skew the results.

Heady stuff. But Lassen County residents can take a deep breath, relax and calmly stir their morning coffee. Unless our local election officials are involved in a conspiracy of bewildering proportions with thousands and thousands of others who share the same responsibility in their individual jurisdictions — a highly unlikely premise — local voters can have every confidence their votes will be counted and the election will be conducted fairly.

Don’t forget, all elections in our great land are decentralized and handled locally. Results are tabulated by district or precinct by duly elected local or county officials who are responsible to the voters. When Lassen County residents go to a polling place to cast their ballots, the volunteer poll workers are people they know. They’re friends and neighbors, not some secretive, sinister partisans working behind the scenes to manipulate the electoral process.

Our local election official, Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante, has worked in that office for years and has thrice been elected by the people. Every ballot cast in Lassen County has a paper trail, so there’s a physical record of every vote. None of the county’s voting machines are connected to the Internet, so there is no way someone could hack into this standalone system. While some in the community have alleged wrongdoing by the county clerk’s office in past elections, none of those allegations have ever been substantiated.

It’s not hard for any of us to see the deep political divisions in our country, the dissatisfaction with our government and the lack of support many feel for both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates. While some strongly support one candidate or the other, many more voters reportedly see this election simply as a battle between two undesirable and unacceptable candidates.

Be that as it may, local voters should be confident their votes will be accurately counted and reported by the Lassen County Clerk’s Office.

Come Election Day, may the people be heard, and may the best candidates win.