Editorial: Morales attempts to mollify issue he helped promulgate


The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales, who campaigned for the state’s top election post as a 2020 election denier, spent tens of thousands of dollars this spring to help mitigate a climate of fear among poll workers that he helped create.

The Secretary of State’s office used $35,070 from a 2023 State Homeland Security Grant to print, package and ship newly created election security guides to election officials, state legislators and law enforcement officers in an effort to better keep voters and election workers safe at the polls this fall.

“Secretary Morales firmly believes there’s no price tag when it comes to the safety of our election workers,” Lindsey Eaton, a spokesperson for the secretary’s office, told the Indiana Capital Chronicle. She said Morales had visited all of the state’s 92 counties, and top of mind with the election officials he met were safety concerns.

A new Brennan Center survey of local election officials in the U.S. reveals a vast majority have taken steps since 2020 to protect voters and election workers from threats and violence in the coming November election. The enhanced security across the country comes as large numbers of election officials report having experienced threats, abuse or harassment for doing their jobs, though state officials and Allen County Director of Elections Amy Scrogham say they’ve received no such reports.

“We have always taken election security seriously,” Scrogham told The Journal Gazette. “We are in contact with Homeland Security and our police. They know where all the locations are on Election Day and for early voting.”

Since the 2020 election, the Brennan Center survey found 38% of local election officials experienced threats, harassment or abuse. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Election Threats Task Force announced it is investigating dozens of threats against election workers and has already convicted 13 individuals.

More than half of local election officials reported being concerned about the safety of their colleagues and staff — a significantly higher number than in 2023, the survey said. Similarly, more than 25% worry about being assaulted at home or work.

Belief that the 2020 presidential election was determined by illegal voting, despite the lack of any supporting evidence, remains rampant throughout the GOP and is fueling the threats. Washington Post-Schar School polling conducted earlier this year found 7 in 10 Republicans believe President Joe Biden’s win was a function of fraud.

During his campaign for secretary of state, Morales wrote in an op-ed that he had “deep skepticism regarding the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election,” calling the contest “a sham.” In an interview later in 2022, he called Biden “the legitimate president,” but didn’t acknowledge his viewpoint had changed.

Morales also called for a number of new, far-reaching restrictions on voting, including cutting the early voting period in half, tightening the rules on who can vote by mail, requiring proof of citizenship during registration, and creating an election task force to probe allegations of illegal voting.

And November’s election will be burdened by House Enrolled Act 1334, authored by Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola. It requires mail-in voters to share the last four digits of their Social Security number or one of three other forms of ID: an Indiana driver’s license, a non-driver state ID card or a voter ID number.

The Brennan Center estimates 25% of U.S. election workers will be administering their first presidential election this year. That’s because more than 33% of election workers surveyed know at least one person who resigned in part over safety concerns.

Indiana’s HEA 1334 and other voter ID laws are solutions to a “problem” that doesn’t exist.

According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, of the millions of Hoosier votes cast between 2003 and 2017, just 43 instances of voter fraud resulted in a criminal conviction.

Instead of reassuring voters that evidence shows elections are fair, Republicans’ constant talk of potential election fraud and piling on additional laws to restrict voting do a disservice to Hoosiers wanting to exercise one of their most basic rights — to choose their leaders.