letter to the editor

Voter intimidation in Alna

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 3:00pm

Dear Editor:

Immediately following last week’s election in Alna, the town’s code enforcement officer visited several households, inquiring about owners and residents and investigating alleged “voter fraud.”

At the same time, the town’s first selectman abruptly resigned and alleged, without offering evidence, that voter fraud had occurred in the election, linking the alleged fraud with possible building code violations.

These actions have caused great distress among many of Alna’s residents, making families feel intimidated and unwelcome.

To connect possible building code violations with “illegal voters” or voter fraud is without precedent.

The proposed interpretation of Alna’s building code—that only members of the same family can inhabit a home—has not been enforced against long-time residents, or family members with “different last names.” Now, it’s being used as an excuse to intimidate newcomers. Town ordinances should be fairly and equally applied, not used selectively to accomplish other goals.

Alna voters have spoken; none of the races in town were close, so a handful of contested votes would have made no difference in the final outcomes.

But here’s what is particularly disheartening: the allegations seem designed to drive some residents out of town or to intimidate them from voting in the future.

Our town is changing, and new families have recently moved in. This should be a cause for celebration. We should welcome new neighbors and what they bring to our town, not harass them to suit the needs of the moment.

Charges of voter fraud are easy to make, but they are not so easily retracted. Leveling such charges publicly, without basis or evidence, is divisive and unsettling. I’m hoping that Alna can build a more civil and respectful future, where all residents are made to feel a part of the community.

Cathy Johnson