Tag Archives: Destiny Wells

Bloomington Media Fail

Last week, I got a message from Jim and Tomi Allison. Tomi is a past, long-serving Mayor  of Bloomington, Indiana (from 1983-1995) and she and Jim had  sent this letter to the editor of the Bloomington Herald-Times. After over a week with no acknowledgement of its receipt–let alone a reply–they were convinced that it wouldn’t be published.

Here is the letter:

In the coming election American voters will have a rare opportunity to defend their country’s historic ideal of representative government—a government chosen by and for the people, regardless of race or gender, in a peaceful transfer of power.  Never have the attacks on this ideal come so fast and furious:  the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol; the hi-tech gerrymanders mapped for partisan advantage in elections for Congress and state legislatures; the dark money flooding election campaigns; the attempts in state after state to suppress the vote by making it harder to register or cast a ballot; the attempts to seize partisan control of the vote counting process; the unscrupulous politicians who strive to shake confidence in our democratic elections and replace them with authoritarian rule.

What can Hoosier voters do in defense?  For one thing, they can come out and vote.  Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells suggests that we should see Indiana as neither red nor blue, but as a purple state with a low voter turnout.  In other words, the laws passed by our representatives would be more to our liking if more voters turned out for the elections that seated those representatives.  Whereas Wells wants more turnout, her major opponent would discourage turnout by shortening the early voting period, supposedly to save money.

Never has it been so vital to put Country before Party in an election for Indiana’s Secretary of State.  Why?  Because our Secretary of State oversees the implementation of Indiana’s election rules.  And, as Political Science Professor Marjorie Hershey wrote in an H-T article of 10/02/1922, “If you can control the rules, you can control the outcome.”

This is no time to put Party before Country in the implementation of our state’s election rules—a state whose Constitution mandates and whose voters deserve free and fair elections.  That’s why my vote will go to Destiny Wells for Indiana Secretary of State.

I am sharing this letter, not just because I agree with it (although I do), but because I am bemused by the evident decision of a local newspaper to ignore a well-written, thoughtful letter from a former Mayor of the City.

I’ve thought a lot about the current, dangerous state of American politics and political debate, and I always come back to the role played by our current information environment–especially but not exclusively the disintegration of local news.

Americans these days live in alternate realities buttressed by our ability to confirm pre-existing biases by a click or two. But partisans’ vastly enhanced ability to indulge confirmation bias isn’t the only negative consequence of our fragmented media environment–studies have confirmed that people who occupy a self-selected “bubble” are insulated from news they need in order to make sound decisions and cast informed votes. (One recent study showed that large numbers of voters who supported Trump in 2016 had never heard about the accusations of fraud, the “grab ’em” tape, or other negative accusations, despite widespread reporting from more traditional sources.)

Here in Indiana, I have no idea how many people are aware of the Secretary of State’s race, aware of the very checkered past performance of the Republican candidate, or the fact that his nomination was the result of a petulant effort by Republicans angry at Governor Holcomb to deny his favored candidate the nod. Not being a Bloomington resident, I also don’t know whether the Herald-Times has reported on the race.

I do know that a local newspaper has a basic obligation to cover local and state politics  fairly and objectively–and in my opinion, that obligation extends to the publication of a well-written endorsement by a former Mayor.

I encourage readers in Bloomington–and elsewhere in Indiana, for that matter–to share Mayor Allison’s endorsement.

How To Rig A Vote

You really have to admire the chutzpah of so many Republican candidates, who are saying– presumably with straight faces–that if they win their contests, the election was free and fair, but if they lose, it was rigged.

I guess that’s how you tell whether an election was fair: if you win. Somehow, I find that less than persuasive…..

The GOP has been working to undermine public confidence in election results for years–in Indiana, when loathsome Todd Rokita was Secretary of State, he ushered in the nation’s first voter ID law. Whatever you think of these laws–and I’ve not been shy about my own analysis–they send a message to voters: some people are casting fraudulent votes, so maybe the election results shouldn’t be trusted. Doubts persist despite the fact that numerous studies have determined that in-person vote fraud is vanishingly rare.

Trump’s “big lie” magnified accusations of impropriety, and in a perfect demonstration of projection (accusing the other guy of your own misdeeds),  GOP candidates running for state offices with responsibilities for vote administration have all but trumpeted (sorry!) their intent to show Americans what rigging an election really looks like.

A report from the Washington Post focused on the threat, but the Post is far from the only media outlet sounding the warning.

In many states, the secretary of state is the chief elections official. It’s a crucial job, but not one that many Americans have heard of, much less paid attention to.

But secretary of state races are starting to get a lot more national attention and money. Former president Donald Trump and his allies have succeeded in boosting 2020 election deniers as candidates this primary season, and in many states, they’ve won the Republican nomination. That means, by next year, election deniers could be in charge of their states’ elections, including in key swing states for the 2024 presidential race.

Actually, as the article properly notes, it’s really hard to rig a national election in America because our election oversight is so decentralized. (That may be one of the very few virtues of state-level authority over the election process.) That said, there are “ways rogue secretaries of state could use their powers to throw a wrench in elections.”

They can follow Rokita’s example, and make it harder for people to cast ballots. Or they can change the procedures governing how votes are counted — like tightening restrictions on when mail-in ballots can arrive or what signatures are accepted.

They can also authorize endless audits and recounts.

There’s nothing wrong with checking results if there’s a dispute, said Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky. But he and other election experts stress that endless audits don’t instill confidence in the democratic process; instead they allow bad actors to try to raise endless questions.

Rogue Secretaries of State can refuse to sign off on election results they don’t like, as a couple of officials did recently in New Mexico. At the very least, election-denying secretaries of state could publicly question election results, further eroding voter confidence and giving election deniers an air of legitimacy.

If enough election deniers get into office in time for the 2024 presidential election, experts worry they could together create enough chaos and confusion that they would weaken Americans’ faith in their government’s ability to hold free and fair elections.

The article identifies the states in which election deniers are currently running for positions that oversee elections. Indiana is one of them. Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut are others. Obviously, in some of those states the denialist is unlikely to win–but in deep red states like Indiana, where few voters are even aware of who’s running in down ballot races, and where majorities routinely vote for anyone with an “R” by their name, there is a real likelihood that these conspiracy theorists will win.

A columnist for the Indianapolis Star called Diego Morales–the Republican candidate for Secretary of State–“broadly unacceptable” for a number of reasons. I absolutely agree–but I wonder how many Hoosier voters know what a Secretary of State does, let alone who is running for the office.

A few weeks ago, I urged readers to support Destiny Wells, the truly impressive Democrat running for Secretary of State. I’ll just repeat how I ended that post: It’s bad enough to live in a state governed by people who want to arm the entire population (okay, to be fair, just the White part), make LGBTQ+ folks second-class citizens, control women’s bodies, and make it easier for a pandemic to kill you. The last thing we need is a nutcase “Big Lie” proponent overseeing our elections.

Just Vote Blue No Matter Who……up and down the ballot.





The Big Lie Guy Running For Secretary of State

When Newsweek runs a story about an Indiana race for Secretary of State, you know something unusual is happening.  Even for Red Indiana, where our lawmakers routinely prostrate themselves before our most retrograde, frightened White Christian Nationalist voters, the outcome of the GOP contest to be the Secretary of State nominee was an embarrassment.

As the linked article reported,

Former Mike Pence aide Diego Morales’ shocking victory in the Indiana secretary of state Republican primary is the latest example of a candidate who backed Donald Trump’s false election claims that potentially could end up overseeing statewide policies for elections.

Morales, who beat incumbent Holli Sullivan following a second round of voting on Saturday, was previously quoted by the Associated Press as calling the 2020 election a “scam.”

Morales has been transparent about his desire to make voting more difficult: he has promised to cut early voting days before each election from 28 days to 14, and–echoing Trump’s xenophobia–to  require new voters to prove their United States citizenship when registering.

As James Briggs wrote in The Indianapolis Star,

The Indiana Republican Party on Saturday nominated a secretary of state candidate so broadly unacceptable that the selection must be setting some kind of record for political ineptitude.

Their choice, Diego Morales, once worked in the secretary of state’s office. That would normally be a good thing. Experience!

Except …

Except that, well, Morales got fired in 2009 over incompetence and a “lack of professionalism,” according to his personnel file. Morales disputes the record, as IndyStar’s Kaitlin Lange wrote, but his file doesn’t leave much ambiguity as to whether he met expectations in his job as a special assistant under Todd Rokita.

That wasn’t the only time: he reportedly rejoined the office in 2011 (why they would rehire someone whose work was previously so unsatisfactory is a mystery, but then, pretty much everything Todd Rokita does is politically motivated, so who knows)  but soon, his supervisors tried to place him on a work improvement plan, citing “poor execution of required daily tasks” and “incomplete event planning and management.”  He evidently  resigned rather than sign the form.

So how did this nomination happen? According to Briggs,

For Republicans, nominating Morales was an unforced error made out of delegates’ spite for Gov. Eric Holcomb. Right-wing Republicans have been furious at Holcomb, a moderate, over his mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions, as well as not being forceful enough in pursuing issues important to the conservative base.

Many of those anti-Holcomb Republicans showed up Saturday to the Indiana State Fairgrounds among the 1,667 delegates who voted in the nominating convention to choose candidates for secretary of state, treasurer and auditor through a nominating convention. The delegates rebuked Holcomb by passing over Secretary of State Holli Sullivan, whom Holcomb appointed in 2021, and going with the anti-establishment choice.

According to Briggs, the Associated Press previously reported that Morales also  embellished his resume and exaggerated the details of his business ownership.( He’s evidently what you’d call “a real piece of work.”)

The Democratic candidate for the office is Destiny Wells. I don’t know her personally, but I’ve heard positive things, and I absolutely loved her recent tweet: “When it’s easier to carry a gun than to vote, we have a problem.” Her website is here.

As veteran political observer Brian Howey reported,

Asked what his victory over Sullivan meant, Morales answered, “I will say one word: Praise the Lord.” Morales, who accused Gov. Eric Holcomb of “abusing his power” during the COVID-19 pandemic, added, “The vision today is to keep that American dream alive. We must secure our elections … so we can increase voter confidence.”

Morales vowed to purge voter rolls, limit absentee ballots and allow voting only on Election Day. “No one in Indiana cemeteries will be allowed to vote,” Morales told GOP delegates. The problem with that is there is no evidence of dead Hoosiers voting…..

While Indiana isn’t a swing state and will almost certainly vote for a Republican presidential nominee in 2024, the notion of installing an election denier as the state’s top elections official is a dicey proposition.

No kidding!

It’s bad enough to live in a state governed by people who want to arm the entire population (okay, to be fair, just the White part), make LGBTQ+ folks second-class citizens, control women’s bodies, and make it easier for a pandemic to kill you. The last thing we need is a nutcase “Big Lie” proponent overseeing our elections.

Go to Destiny Wells website and send her some money. Then VOTE FOR HER.