DES MOINES — That was fairly a century we had this 12 months, wasn’t it?
Now that we’re about to leap off the curler coaster that was 2020, let’s take one final look again. After which we promise to by no means focus on it once more. Deal?
As with all curler coaster, the 12 months in politics 2020 featured loads of highs and lows. Let’s be trustworthy, although — there have been in all probability many extra lows than highs. Nevertheless it’s the vacations and all of us want extra causes to be glad, so let’s at the least try for some stability right here.
In that spirit, let’s begin on a excessive notice and speak about voter turnout. Regardless of the pandemic, Iowans and People turned out for the elections in large numbers.
In Iowa, 76 % of energetic registered voters solid a poll, a document excessive for the state and among the many finest charges within the nation. Practically 1.7 million Iowans voted in November’s normal election, simply clearing the earlier high-water mark of roughly 1.6 million in 2012.
That’s irrefutably excellent information. Usually talking, the extra individuals who take part in our elections, the higher our consultant authorities ought to function.
In fact that top turnout was aided by an enormous enhance within the variety of early votes. Iowa set a document on that entrance as effectively, with greater than 1 million absentee ballots solid. This clearly helped immensely through the pandemic, when many citizens had been hesitant to vote in-person whereas COVID-19 was spreading via the state and nation.
Which, sadly, leads us to one of many lows: the undermining of religion in our elections course of.
The unlucky marketing campaign to sow doubt in our elections was spearheaded by Republican President Donald Trump after he misplaced his bid for reelection to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has spent the previous two months firing off all method of allegations with out proof, and his authorized group has finished the identical. In fact, these authorized challenges have been remarkably unsuccessful, incomes one minor victory that had no bearing on the result whereas dozens upon dozens of the lawsuits have been defeated, withdrawn or thrown out earlier than even receiving a listening to.
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It has been a disheartening two months for anybody who values free and truthful elections, essentially the most vital and fundamental operate in our consultant authorities.
As we already knew, and these quixotic authorized challenges have proved as soon as once more, widespread voter fraud doesn’t exist. However that has not stopped Trump from making an attempt to name the whole system into query simply because he misplaced.
This isn’t a victimless crime. A good portion of the American folks don’t imagine the nation held free and truthful elections in November. We gained’t know the total impression of that for years.
Talking of issues that had been politicized in 2020 — however shouldn’t have been — one other determined low was the politicization of public well being suggestions, significantly the usage of face masks to assist gradual the unfold of COVID-19.
Right here was a easy instrument, a ridiculously simple step to take, that public well being and infectious illness consultants mentioned with exceptional unison would actually save lives. And someway, sporting face masks turned a political debate in 2020.
In truth, it’s too miserable to dwell on, so let’s transfer on rapidly and end on a excessive notice: the service of election employees in Iowa throughout the nation.
For the explanations already acknowledged right here, this 12 months’s elections — the June major and November normal — had been held beneath traditionally attempting situations. There was a pandemic raging with a lethal virus that spreads via human contact and interplay. And there was a swelling assault on the elections course of, shining an sadly agitated mild on election employees.
And but they nonetheless got here out. In truth, many election employees this 12 months had been first-timers who stepped up as a result of they knew that historically election employees skew older, and people individuals are extra prone to the consequences of COVID-19.
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Within the face of a lethal pandemic and rising voter unrest, Iowans and People volunteered to assist guarantee our elections ran easily. And for essentially the most half, they did — as they all the time do.
That’s one thing inspiring that we are able to take away from this curler coaster of a 12 months: That even in essentially the most attempting moments, there are nonetheless many Iowans and People who will reply an important calls to responsibility.
Completely satisfied New Yr, everybody. Right here’s to a 2021 that finds inspiration in and builds off these varieties of moments.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and authorities. His column seems Monday in The Gazette. His e mail tackle is firstname.lastname@example.org. Observe him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.
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