At the birth of our Republic we fought a war to gain sovereignty over the right to vote and determine our destiny as citizens. Yet, as we celebrate the 244th Fourth of July, we find ourselves on the threshold of surrendering our rights anew, throwing away our right of self-determination by accepting unsecure elections.

A pandemic, riots, and political rancor have given rise to factions and rules that undoubtedly have diminished our individual liberties in myriad ways — from dining out to funerals and religious worship. But also under attack is that same civic right of electing our leaders. The calls to accept mail-in ballots are growing louder, despite the many documented risks.

There is civil unrest in most major cities of the nation where history is being destroyed in literal fashion, local governments cowed, and agitators seeking to abolish law enforcement. Chaos here cannot be abetted by adding that of a contested November election to the volatile mix, and surrendering to the “little tyrants” our founders so often warned that populate big government. Simply put, we patriots should be aware that the peril we faced in 1776 isn’t so very different from now, when an election can be stolen and our Republic imperiled.

Now, as then, we face a grave threat to the integrity of that civic participation’s survival. Established factions have grown powerful and controlling. Among them we count political parties, and special interests that threaten the choices for citizens and their natural right to control their destiny and choose their governors.

Sadly, many people have become too frightened to leave their homes to exercise this right. They have become myopically convinced that filling out an absentee ballot is the only safe manner to cast their vote. But there are dangers inherent in an all-mail-in ballot process.

There is a body of documented evidence that shows that mail-in ballots are rife with opportunity for large scale vote theft. Even under non-pandemic conditions and in times that aren’t as panic-stricken, mail-in ballots have been utilized by well-funded vote harvesters. With an all-mail-in ballot system, the opportunity for vote harvesting is exponentially increased. While some states already do conduct vote by mail operations, these operations were not built in a day — they’ve had years. Done wrong, we ignore the lessons of the past.

Have we forgotten then the cause for celebration of the Fourth of July? On that day in 1776, a document was signed, declaring freedom, liberty and independence from a controlling establishment, thus reversing the political relationship of subject and sovereign. It set down in writing that rights come from God and not government. It gave birth to our Republic (and resulted in a war of independence to gain those rights. It led to the formation of a government to secure those rights “ … deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Chief among those right is the right to vote and determine our own destinies.

That right of self-determination means little if an illegitimate vote cancels out a legitimate one.

If that right is stolen or undermined, consent of the governed is no longer a worry for those in power. This leads to a lack of trust in the system and foments unrest — not unlike what the original American Colonies faced in 1776.

What a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that we are those enfranchised to select our leaders. It’s a right worth protecting.

Happy 244th Independence Day. May we celebrate many more!

Former U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco leads the Election Protection Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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