Governor Ralph Northam joined 10 other Democratic governors issuing a joint statement on Wednesday defending American democracy, vowing that every valid ballot will be counted in the election.
The statement comes after a contentious debate Tuesday night where President Trump expressed skepticism of mail voting. Trump also called on his backers to scrutinize voting procedures at the polls, which critics said could cross into voter intimidation. Without mentioning Trump by name, the governors noted his refusal last week to commit to a peaceful transition of power.
Former state Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) told The Virginia Star, “I feel like they’re trying to imply that Trump is trying to figure out a way not to concede the election, and I don’t think that’s the case at all.” Carrico said Trump is right to be concerned about mail-in ballots.
“Any efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power are nothing less than an assault on democracy,” the governors wrote. “There is absolutely no excuse for promoting the intimidation or harassment of voters. These are all blatant attempts to deny our constituents the right to have their voices heard, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and to know the will of the people will be carried out.”
“There’s so many things that are fraught and wrong in the process unless you have some measures in place to protect it,” Carrico said. “If you were to have 80 million ballots cast, the time that it would take to count these ballots, and do the process to certify and say it’s all legitimate ballots, then I think that’s where [Trump’s] major concern is. I don’t think it’s what they’re trying to imply, that he’s not wanting to concede.”
“Our nation has held presidential elections and upheld the results throughout our history, even in times of great peril. We did it during the Civil War and both World Wars, and we can do it during a pandemic,” the Governors said. “And if the outcome of this election means the end of a presidency, he must leave office—period.”
Signing the statement were Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Jay Inslee of Washington, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kate Brown of Oregon, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and John Carney of Delaware. The eleven states together have 151 electoral votes; a presidential candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes out of a total 538 possible.
The governors wrote that elections are not “an exercise in controlling power” and that disenfranchising voters “strikes at the very heart” of democracy.
“We call on elected leaders at all levels, from both parties, to speak out loudly against such efforts in the weeks ahead,” they said.
Carrico said that in their desire to make voting easier, Democrats risk compromising the process.
“All these things that you’re putting in place to [give the elections process integrity] are just being wiped away, and then they’re the first ones to scream that there’s outside influence in our elections process,” Carrico said. “Well, when you water it down, there’s always going to be some influence and it can be outside because you’ve weakened the process to vote.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected]. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo “Ballots” by Lance Fisher. CC BY-SA 2.0.