By Colleen Britton: Published November 14, 2022
The Constitution Literacy Advocates presented awards Thursday to Solano County 10th- through 12th-grade students who competed in the 11th annual Constitution Essay Constitution. The assigned topic this year was to define election integrity and why it is imperative if “We the People” are to “secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity”? Since 2012, this committee has received 1,700 student essays and awarded a total of $12,700 to competing Solano students.
Stephanie Choi, a senior from Rodriguez Early College High School and consecutive year winner, will receive the Best of School and the Grand Prize awards, totaling an $800 mini-grant. Her winning essay is below. ••• Election integrity is the right to confidently vote in a free and fair election, safeguarded from voter fraud or interference of any kind. The three words which head the Constitution, “We the People,” encapsulate and underscore the fact that the document derives its power from none other than the very people of the United States who are governed by it: a concept upon which the entire Constitution is built. Elections empower “We the People” to control the government because they allow for “We the People” to participate in determining who will represent and “exercise the powers of government” (Article IV Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution) upon us. As a constitutional federal republic, it is in the peoples’ interest to ensure their government is the outcome of an honest election concluded with their benefit and the national good in mind. Voter fraud, which puts fair, honest, and transparent elections at risk today, takes many forms: bribing or intimidating people to vote for a certain candidate, impersonation and false registration, voting while ineligible, etc. A recent instance of voter fraud can be seen in the case of the June 2021 Compton City Council race whose results, decided by a mere one vote difference, were overturned succeeding criminal charges against its victor: Isaac Galvan. A judge ruled that four votes were casted by non-residents of the district and Galvan was accused of attempting to bribe an elections official with concert tickets. Relatedly, Elizabeth Gale from San Diego was sentenced to two years of felony probation after pleading guilty to voting in place of her deceased mother in the 2021 gubernatorial recall election earlier this year. Gale claimed to have witnessed her mother signing the ballot, but in reality, she had forged her signature. When elections are compromised, Americans are robbed of their voice in government and constitutional right to vote. Evident in the case of Isaac Galvan mentioned prior, voter fraud can completely change the outcomes of elections and make way for intentional misrepresentation and deceit.
Election integrity flourishes under the active involvement of citizens devoted enough to watch over it. Given much of the electoral process depends on the states, legislators and election officials, they can implement measures which will make ensuring election integrity that much more possible. States can pass laws that make it mandatory to provide an ID to vote; verify their voter registration lists through government records and databases; and forbid people like party representatives from collecting absentee ballots from voters.
When election integrity is abandoned, the peoples’ right to a free, fair election is no more: votes are tainted and people lose their faith in the process. Elections not only call attention to ensuring all eligible individuals are able to vote, but that each individual vote is accurately accounted for. They empower us to secure our and our posterity’s ability to have a voice in government and society, protecting our rights from fraudsters. If we can offer our participation, we can keep our republic.