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Americans favor free and fair elections | READER COMMENTARY

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is shown in this Oct. 18, 2022 file photograph speaking during the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray File)

Friends of democracy can finally breathe a sigh of relief. There are many reasons, but the results of the secretary of state races in the battleground states that usually determine who wins the Electoral College offer the best evidence that we will have an honest presidential election in 2024.

Marylanders missed much of this drama because here the governor appoints the secretary of sate. In most states, voters elect these officials who run the nuts and bolts of elections and take their commitment to democracy for granted. Until recently.

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On Jan. 6, 2021, everything changed. In each key swing state, Republican candidates in either the primary or general election denied the validity of the 2020 election and the legitimacy of the Joe Biden presidency. These candidates formed their own Coalition of America First Secretaries of State, separate from traditional Republican organizations. All this in the name of freedom.

On Nov. 8, voters in these swing states — Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — didn’t buy what the election deniers were selling.

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In 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, rejected Donald Trump’s entreaties to “just find me” the votes needed to win. In the Republican primary two years later, Raffensperger defeated Trump-endorsed election denier Jody Hice. Voters rewarded him with reelection as he easily won Tuesday’s general election.

In Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro defeated election-denier Doug Mastriano in the governor’s race. As in Maryland, Shapiro will now pick Pennsylvania’s new secretary of state.

In Arizona, Adrian Fontes defeated staunch election denier Mark Finchem and won with the largest majority of any statewide candidate. Cisco Aguilar appears to have won in Nevada and, like Fontes, has run ahead of any other Democratic statewide candidate.

In Minnesota, Democrat Steve Simon easily defeated an election denier and was the top vote-getter in the state. Michigan incumbent Jocelyn Benson handily defeated her election-denying opponent. And in Wisconsin, Doug LaFollette appears to have won again as he has in every secretary of state race since 1982.

Every Democrat did not win every election in these states and in some, election deniers won or may still win important races. But not in secretary of state races.

Secretary of state races are about only one thing. They are not about taxes, inflation, abortion, COVID, infrastructure, aid to Ukraine or critical race theory. They are about free and fair elections, now and in the future. They are about the right to vote and the right to have it honestly counted. They are about the democratic character of the candidates themselves.

At a time when Americans disagree about so many things, they seemed to find a consensus around free and fair elections.

In 1814, former President and founding father John Adams warned us “there never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” This week, American voters had their say. They chose life. They chose elections without fear or fraud. Whatever your party affiliation, this is good news.

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— Michael B. Levy, Washington, D.C.

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