The terrible consequences of the vote count

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The Commission of Inquiry into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol sought testimony from a host of men and women who held prestigious titles: attorney general, senior adviser to the president of the United States, federal judge , Secretary of State. And they all described, often in emotional terms, how they, in some way, spoke truth to power. They didn’t believe former President Donald Trump’s fiction of a stolen election. They refused his pleas to find nonexistent votes and would not legitimize conjured voters. They ignored Trump’s threats.

On Tuesday afternoon, a trio of Republican men from Georgia and Arizona told their stories of defiance and certainty at the committee’s fourth public hearing: Brad Raffensberger, Gabriel Sterling and Russell “Rusty” Bowers. They were men of some influence and privileged in politics, men whose party affiliation was clearly demonstrated as further proof of their courage. They were men accustomed to being heard and even obeyed. Men for whom the system was built.

“The system held, but barely,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-California).

Panel hears testimony about Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials

And yet, our democracy only really works because of people like Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss. She held a much less impressive title: employee. His testimony carried the weight of a country’s shame and pain.

Moss was an election worker for more than a decade, and while at the Fulton County Elections and Registration Department in Georgia from 2017 to 2022, she processed voter applications and applications for postal vote. She also helped process ballots after the 2020 election. She chose her profession not because it brought her prestige or wealth, but because it was loaded with meaning.

“My grandmother always told me how important it is to vote and that people before me, a lot of people, old people in my family, didn’t have that right. So what I loved most about my job was older voters,” Moss, who is black, testified. “Older voters like to call; they like to talk to you; they like to get my card; they like to know that at every election, I am there. Even students, a lot of parents trusted me to make sure their child didn’t have to drive home – they would get a mail-in vote. They can vote. I really enjoyed it.

“They want a new constituency map; if they don’t have a photocopier or a computer or anything like that, I could mail it to them. I was always happy to send out any absentee ballots for seniors or people with disabilities,” Moss said. “I even remember driving to the hospital to give someone their leave request.

“That’s what I love the most.”

And so the system chained itself together. Because of people like Moss.

Until Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani and a chorus of enablers tried to break the system down, just one of an assortment of schemes.

They falsely accused Moss and his mother Ruby Freeman, who also helped process the ballots, of being election hustlers — of being a two-person cabal that tainted Georgia’s election results. Women have been harassed and threatened on social media and in real life. The FBI told Freeman she had to leave her house, for security reasons. Vigilantes searching for the two election officials rushed to Moss’ grandmother’s home with the intention of making a citizen’s arrest. The mother and daughter received messages filled with rage, hatred and racism. The Trump Mafia, in all its populist hubris, has gone after these women who live far from the Deep State, the Washington swamp and the coastal elite.

The president’s men and women, under interrogation

Moss entered the crowded courtroom with her mother. Freeman sat in the front row of the spectators and her daughter moved to the witness table, but not before glancing back to make sure her mother was okay – that her mother was there . Freeman wore red; Moss was dressed in black. Moss looked up at the committee. She took several deep breaths. She bit her lip. She looked slightly pained. Her face, her body language reminded the audience that it’s not easy. It is not normal.

President Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) greeted Moss and asked, “Do you want to introduce your mom?” It was an awesome offer. Even hospitable. Moss waved at his mother, and Freeman smiled and waved at the president. At this point, the starched formality of the audience softened. The forthcoming testimony was not about voters, scanners and outlandish lawsuits. It was not a referendum on politicians and oaths of office. It was about this girl and her mom.

The committee spoke at length about the threat to our democracy posed by Trump and his mob. And it is undeniable even if this “clear and present” danger sometimes looks more like a disconcerting intellectual exercise. Moss expressed the damage in sad and human terms. She raised her right hand and agreed to tell the truth. Her nails were all styled with a stiletto manicure in cheerful shades of orange and yellow. A charm bracelet dangled from her wrist. She had not remained federal in Washington. She was colorful and friendly. She was the human face of an electoral bureaucracy. A true supporter of civic duty. A black woman instilled in the value of the vote.

Moss testified to what Jan. 6 — and everything before it and everything after it — cost him.

“It turned my life upside down. I don’t give out my business card anymore,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to know my name. I don’t want to go anywhere with my mom because she might be screaming my name in the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go grocery shopping at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all. I gained about 60 lbs. I don’t do anything anymore; I don’t want to go anywhere. I question everything I do.

“It affected my life in a major way. In all directions. All because of lies.

Moss is no longer an election worker. “I mean how sorry I think we are all for what you went through. And tragically, you are not alone,” Schiff said. object of lies and threats.”

She is damaged. The system is broken.

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