It’s hard to find too much fault with how Maine’s elections are run. For that, we should thank the many local clerks and volunteers who work year-round to make sure votes are cast and counted properly. These are our neighbors, and their dedication is crucial to the continuation of a strong democracy.

Yet some people, egged on by fantastic claims of stolen elections by prominent politicians, including former President Donald Trump, see them as part of some big conspiracy.

This group is relatively small but also loud and aggressive, and it is making life difficult for election workers who want nothing more than to put on a fair, open and smoothly run election. If Maine is going to preserve its top-notch local elections, this behavior cannot be tolerated.

We’re not talking about the kind of political speech that can get heated near an election. We’re talking about fellow Mainers who have become targets for anger and harassment for doing a job we all depend on.

In recent years, clerks and deputy clerks at city and town offices throughout the state have been the targets of absurd allegations and abuse related to voter and ballot fraud. At least two have received death threats.

Who knows what kind of mental gymnastics it takes to accept the notion that the local people running local elections are involved in some kind of nationwide plot to skew the results? Those who swallow these specious claims are simply too caught up in the lies by national politicians, and some here in Maine, that say our elections are full of fraud and that Trump’s election loss in 2020 was the result of a conspiracy against him.


Once you believe that, you don’t have to go far to believe that the conspiracy extends to your own town office. Then come the personal visits, phone calls, emails and social media posts attacking these local workers, leaving them stressed and worried about their own safety.

“Being on the receiving end of a voter’s profanity-laced rants (is) commonplace now,” Waterville City Clerk Patti Dubois told Maine legislators earlier this year. “Technology has made it unbelievably easy for misinformed citizens to threaten election officials. Email, voicemail and social media are platforms easily used that allow a degree of anonymity.”

The Brennan Center for Justice reports nationwide that one in three election workers feels unsafe because of their job, while one in five listed threats to their lives as a job-related concern. It’s that kind of treatment that has some communities struggling to fill election worker positions ahead of the June primary, the Maine Monitor reported this week.

Into this environment comes an initiative by state Republicans to train poll watchers for upcoming elections. With so many Republicans who believe without any evidence that elections are rife with fraud, it’s fair to wonder just what they’ll be watching for. Will they just be another source of stress and abuse for election workers?

It shouldn’t be this way. People have been watching the polls in Maine for years, and all they’ve found is a secure and well-run series of local elections that nearly always get it right. And when something goes wrong, there are mechanisms in place to catch and correct it.

It would be helpful to hear the Maine Republican Party state these facts clearly, rather than continuing to rile up voters with baseless aspersions about our voting process. It’s those claims that are making a target of local election workers.

For certain, democracy requires that we keep watch over our elections. But when close inspection finds secure elections run well by well-trained community members, it’s up to all of us to say that, to celebrate it and to make sure that it stays free from malicious interference.

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