VOX POPULI: Defend Democracy and Count All the Votes!

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Nikkei Progressives member June Hibino mailing handwritten letters to voters in battleground states encouraging them to vote.

By TONY OSUMI, Nikkei Progressives

The 2020 election has been four years in the making. Nikkei Progressives was born immediately out of the 2016 election. Members of our multigenerational group knew immigrants and Muslims would face attacks and need Japanese American support.

This year we are working hard to get out the vote. We’ve been writing letters and postcards, and phonebanking to battleground states. We organized Zoom gatherings to talk about issues and candidates, and created a Nikkei Progressives Voter Guide for Californians.

The future direction of the country has never been more important. Voters feel it. Facing down growing acts of voter intimidation and waits up to 11 hours long, early voting and new voters are breaking records. But in addition to typical voter suppression techniques like purging voter registration lists, closing polling sites, and requiring photo IDs, there’s another issue.

We’re voting in the middle of a global pandemic. 229,000 Americans have died. Yet the GOP has new roadblocks for voters. There are postal slowdowns and unfounded accusations of vote-by-mail fraud. There are judicial rulings not allowing ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted. There are counties, like in Texas, with up to 165,000 people and only one ballot drop-box. There are also demands to call the winner early on Nov. 3 even if all the votes haven’t been counted. It’s all intended to disenfranchise Democratic voters — especially people of color — and undermine election results.

Most troubling and unprecedented, President Trump refuses to commit to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses. If you are a Democrat, Republican, or third party voter, this should scare the heck out of you. In sports, we teach our kids to hustle, play hard and play fair. To win humbly and lose with dignity. But in 2020, it’s adults that need reminding.

Republican John McCain said it well: “I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance. A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility.”

Stay vigilant during the election and look for these red flags:

Warning Signs for Election Theft

• Trump declares himself or is declared the winner while the results remain unclear.

• They stop counting all the votes cast in a particular state.

• Election officials find unexplained irregularities or signs of tampering.

• Trump loses, but won’t leave office on Jan. 20.

Also remain media savvy. Election theft isn’t always violent. It can be whitewashed and reported as a “constitutional crisis.” It can come wrapped in our flag and sold as “protecting the will of the people.” It can also be dressed up with legalese and justified with a Supreme Court ruling. Don’t be fooled.

A Good Defense of Our Democracy Includes a Strong Offense

We can protect the 2020 election by responding quickly as a movement. It needs to be nonviolent, multi-generational, and economically diverse. Think national, mainstream and family friendly. To win we also need economic pressure. This means disrupting business as usual and hitting the political elites where it hurts. It can include economic boycotts, rolling strikes, work slowdowns, and financial support for affected workers. Unions across the country have already met and agreed to take action to defend the election.

Actions You Can Take This Week

In response to Trump’s election threats, defend-the-vote rallies across the country are planned for Nov. 4 and 7. Save those dates and be ready to attend. Flooding the streets will be vital. But being safe and physically distanced is a must. Fortunately, there will be lots of ways to help. Any calls to action will take shape as the election unfolds. Stay informed by following Nikkei Progressives on Facebook and Instagram. Visit the coalition Protect the Results for resources and rallies in your area.

United we can send a message to Trump and the GOP: try to steal this election and “there will be political damage and a price to pay.” We also must push our elected officials and the Democratic leadership to stand up and make sure all the votes are counted.

No matter what side of the aisle you are on, defending our democracy and the U.S. Constitution takes everyone. Get involved. Hopefully, the 2020 election will go smoother than expected. If not, American democracy and the right to free and fair elections are at stake. Let’s not take them for granted. They’re ours. Together, let’s defend the vote.

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Nikkei Progressives a grassroots, all-volunteer, multi-generational community organization. We care deeply about Little Tokyo and issues of justice and fairness within the Japanese American community and beyond. Visit us on Facebook, Instagram, and at www.nikkeiprogressives.org. Contact us by email at nik[email protected]

Opinions expressed in Vox Populi are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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