Our elections work because they are run by ordinary citizens at the state and local level who either were elected or volunteered to help administer the vote as a matter of civic duty. This is a wondrous thing: community volunteers overseeing the vote and counting the results. I love voting in person for just this reason; having seen people in other nations too terrified even to talk about politics, it always filled me with quiet joy to have my fellow townspeople hand me a ballot and protect my privacy while I voted.
These unhinged bullies are telling other Americans that it is not safe to defy them at the ballot box, whether you’re a top elected official or a rank-and-file volunteer—or even if you’re the vice president of the United States, as Mike Pence learned while hiding from the mob on January 6.
This is obscene. Americans, I think, have always understood that running for a high-profile or national office like the presidency entails some danger from unstable people; that’s why we think so highly of the men and women of the Secret Service who will put themselves in harm’s way even for candidates. But it is a long-standing tradition in American politics that serving as an election worker or a school-committee member or a local alderman is not a life-threatening proposition.