Community Voices: Election conspiracy theory is specious | Voice of the community

Long ago, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, his people celebrated. The Pharisees told Jesus to silence his disciples, to which Jesus replied, “If they remain silent, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) For the past four years, I’ve had the blessed pleasure of working in County Supervisor David Couch’s office where the rules were simple: Don’t say things that complicate the life of the elected. As a result, I had to shut up and put my writings aside. Having recently left that job, I hope I can find that voice again.

Elected officials walk a fine line in what they say and as a staff member I learned that my words could be used against him, causing him problems. In fact, it happened. So I learned silence.

The Supervisory Board meeting of April 5 is an example where silence was necessary. Speaker after speaker, most from a conservative group called the Election Integrity Project, protested a contract extension for Dominion Voting Machines. As I listened, I noticed they were repeating talking points used nationally by those who say the 2020 election was stolen. Speakers urged the council to abandon this computerized counting system and asked that all votes be counted by hand. Ironically, many have complained that hand counting people are also flawed. They claimed that oft-repeated fraud occurs because voter registration lists are outdated, signatures do not match, and mail-in ballots inherently create opportunities for fraud. A lady reportedly proved the voting system was flawed by confessing to a crime she had committed: filling out her dead mother’s ballot and returning it!

It didn’t matter that Kern County had clearly voted in favor of its candidate, given Dominion’s equipment. It also didn’t matter, as Kern County Auditor-Comptroller-Clerk-Registrar of Electors Mary Bedard aptly put it in her April 15 community voice, that the vote-counting machines have been used for over 50 years. According to these speakers, if Dominion was used, there was probably fraud. Eh? You would think that if people conspired to commit a crime, they would do a better job than that! Poor Bédard, a true professional, was vilified for her electoral management, her integrity called into question, because she used this material, wanted this contract extension, and allowed observers to see the counting, but from a distance, among other things. It didn’t matter that this same equipment was also used in the 2016 election.

Much to the board’s credit, they voted 5-0 to continue the contract. Even supervisors who can sympathize with the feelings of speakers know they can’t just cancel a contract for unfounded political reasons. Since Dominion sued media, it was probably wise to avoid potential litigation by terminating the contract without cause. The normal business of the 2022 election was to go ahead without stopping to restart the 2020 election.

On April 18, KGET-17 released a special election report, “How Safe Is Your Vote in Kern County,” which can be found on their website, which thoroughly assesses each complaint of fraud by EIP. The EIP is supposed to “prove” its theory by saying that deceased people voted, or that too many voters in the system are registered with the date of January 1, 1900 as their date of birth, among other “coincidences”. KGET-17’s Maddie Gannon and Alex Fisher did a great job explaining with detailed facts how weird anomalies like this happen. And as far as signatures go, although my old signature is somewhat different from what I have now, I would still like my vote to be counted. I’m sure others have a similar experience.

As a staff member who has been in government for a long time, this is not controversial or “conspiratorial” for me. Whatever your policy, the business of government must go on. Bédard has work to do, as do the supervisors. There are many reasons to criticize the government, but this Kern County election conspiracy theory is specious. Typically, conspiracy theories are more often a theorist’s vulnerability, and this case seems no different.

At the exit of the office of the elected, the silence is lifted. So, no, the rocks won’t need to be shouted, and I hope they won’t be thrown either, at least not at my old boss.

Sal Moretti is a former captain in the United States Air Force and a retired municipal superintendent. You can email him at [email protected]

Sharon D. Cole