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Election integrity is important to safeguard American democracy

Election integrity is important to safeguard American democracy
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As former members of Congress, an Indiana Democrat and a Tennessee Republican, we have sat on opposing sides of policy fights. But we have also shared moments of bipartisan collaboration with issues of common purpose for our country, including working closely together as chairs of the Issue One Reformers Caucus during the last four years.

With that bipartisan group of around 200 former members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, and governors, we have put country before party to try to clean up the swamp in Washington, secure our elections from any foreign interference, and make the legislative branch more responsive to average citizens. We have made slow but steady progress.

We are now working together again to ensure that this election is fair and secure, and that every vote cast in accordance with the applicable laws is counted. We have joined with more than 40 other former elected officials for both parties, former Cabinet secretaries, retired military officials, and civic leaders to create the National Council on Election Integrity, which is devoted to defending the legitimacy of the contest results.

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Americans are bombarded with a daily basis through television and social media about how divided we are in our politics. But it does not have to be like this echo chamber of vehement disagreement and often vile personal accusations. Important values transcend politics and drive to the core of who we are as a country, including the sacred right to vote, the peaceful transition of power, and the integrity of our elections. These are revered traditions and attributes of a proud democracy, ones that all Americans, regardless of party, must consider our bedrock principles.

There are several pernicious forces at play that are deliberately trying to sow mistrust and doubt in our elections. So many are stoking fears that this election will be ripe with fraud, and voters on both sides of the aisle are worried that the other party will cheat or that people with the losing side will be prone to violence if their candidate is defeated.

We must push back against those who try to undermine our elections and inflict damage on our fellow citizens, whether they be foreign enemies or domestic actors. Creating chaos does not serve our democracy, nor does it assist whomever will be president next year to move forward and solve the crisis of the pandemic wrecking middle class stability. We must insist on peaceful demonstrations with both sides, and not tolerate destruction or violence, as we wait for the election results and winner.

That is why the National Council on Election Integrity encourages all of us, from voters to candidates to journalists to social media platforms and the political parties, to stay patient as we count every vote cast in accordance with the applicable laws. With the number of voters using absentee ballots likely doubling from 2016 amid the coronavirus, it will probably take extra hours or even extra days to count the historic number of absentee ballots. Thankfully, our election officials across the country are working tirelessly to ensure correct vote counting and to validate the results.

We have been conducting successful and peaceful elections for almost 240 years, including during the Civil War, two World Wars, and the Great Depression. We have not always known the results on election night, but we have always managed the peaceful retention or transfer of power. We will continue this track record in the aftermath of the race.

We are eternally hopeful and working hard to ensure that the election will be safe and secure, and that every vote cast will be counted. We will each cast our respective votes, most likely along party lines, and then together urge our fellow citizens to patiently and peacefully wait for the declaration of our next president. We both plan to support the final outcome after the process is completed. We implore the rest of our fellow citizens to do the same to continue 240 more years of freedom and liberty.

Tim Roemer is a former Democratic member of Congress from Indiana and Zach Wamp is a former Republican member of Congress from Tennessee. They both serve as the chairs of the Issue One Reformers Caucus and are both members on the National Council on Election Integrity organization.