Op - Ed, Opinion

Rebuilding faith in democracy one fact at a time

By Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos and Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters

It only takes just a few minutes online to get a snapshot of America in 2022; a country divided; a digital battleground of rhetoric where information is wielded as a weapon.

We hold faith that we can still heal this divide when we focus on our shared values and learn once again to put partisan motives and political differences aside for the common good.

Unfortunately misinformation, rumors and conspiracy theories about the elections process are eroding the public’s faith in the integrity of our democracy as the keyboard warriors continue shouting at each other across the void.

Time and time again partisan political operatives have used outlandish claims about the electoral process to garner big headlines and get the immediate attention they crave as they try to dominate the news cycle and the Twitter hashtags each day. When they fail to produce evidence weeks or months later, there may be some coverage, a small afterthought of a story, perhaps, but by then the damage is done and the public and the media have moved on.

Any cyber expert can tell you these falsehoods are amplified by foreign cyber influence campaigns, seeking to sow chaos and distrust in the American public. Faulty information can be seen and shared by millions of people in minutes.

Despite the lack of evidence of fraud or election rigging, and despite the integrity and accuracy of the 2020 election being proven through endless recounts, audits and the careful certification of results, many Americans have lost faith in our elections process.

As secretary and deputy secretary of state, we are dedicated to rebuilding the trust necessary for Vermonters to have confidence that our elections are fair and secure, and that when they cast their ballot their vote will count and be counted accurately.

It may take time to heal from the years of attacks on truth and common sense, but we are dedicated to doing so transparently, openly answering the questions Vermonters have about how we vote, how our elections are run, and what safeguards are in place to prevent cheating or abuse.

That’s why we have launched an important tool in this work: a myth vs. facts page of our website dedicated to reputable, factual elections information. We urge you to visit this page, link to it, and let us know what other questions you want answered about Vermont elections.

As we look forward to the 2022 elections and beyond, we want to give Vermont voters a way to help discern fact from fiction. This compendium FAQ will be a living document: we will be adding to it as new questions or information arise. Transparency and honesty are the antidote to misinformation and outright lies, and are one way we will be able to restore faith in our democratic process, we are committed to providing Vermonters with large doses of both.

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