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Good News: Mississippi Woman Convicted After Trying to Win Votes Via Bribes

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Good News: Mississippi Woman Convicted After Trying to Win Votes Via Bribes

On 10.10.19 01:37 PM posted by Jason Snead

For the residentsof Canton, Mississippi, faith in their elected officials must be at an all-timelow.

The city has beenfacing seemingly endless election scandals in the past couple of years. Fivelocal officials—including an alderman, the fire chief, and the city clerk—have been convicted of a variety ofcrimes stemming from their efforts to rig a 2017 municipal election, and cannever seek public office again.

It’s disturbing that so many elected officials, entrusted to represent the people and improve the community, were instead able to corrupt the electoral system in the name of power and personal gain.

And, as Canton’sresidents are discovering, the worst of the bunch might just be CourtneyRainey.

Courtney Rainey—Canton’s director of human and culturalneeds, school board member, and (ironically) judicial candidate—was convictedand sentenced Sept. 23 to 15 years in prison on charges of witness intimidationafter she tried to stymie the criminal investigation into her earlier effortsat voter fraud.

While many were given the opportunity to enter pretrial diversion programs or step down from their offices, Rainey was not given the same leniency in her sentence—and for good reason.

Rainey’s scheme involved bribing voters with gift cards and cash to win an election. When one of the people Rainey had bribed told authorities about the plot, Rainey attempted to intimidate the voter into changing her initial statement to officials.

Rainey wasinsistent, too. She showed up at the voter’s job and home, not once, but twice.

Some may arguethat a 15-year sentence is overkill for the crime she committed. It’s true thatRainey was not the only Canton public official to try to sway the results of anelection, and her sentence is certainly an outlier among the other cases.

However, duringsentencing, Judge Dewey Arthur gave good reason for the stiff punishment: “All the other people chargedaccepted responsibility.” Rainey, by contrast, tried to cover up her wrongdoingby threatening witnesses.

Even now, she continues to fight charges against her, and faces another seven criminal voter fraud trials set to begin soon.

Further, not onlyhas Rainey been remorseless about her efforts to steal an election, the judgepointed out that she “doubled down and sought more power and more influenceafter these indictments came down.”

People can easilyenough get swept up in their own ambition, and Rainey is hardly the firstpublic official to be swayed to commit fraud by the siren call of power.

Indeed, The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database records 1,217 documented instances of voter fraud, some in nearly every state. These cases are just a sampling of voter fraud in America, but the database’s entries contain many examples shockingly similar to Rainey’s.

The bottom line: Solong as elections are the path to political power, unscrupulous activists andofficials will seek out and exploit vulnerabilities to ensure their careers ortheir political causes aren’t left up to the whims of voters.

When that fraud is ignored or tolerated, it metastasizes. Canton, about 25 miles northeast of the state capital, Jackson, is proof: This one case has brought down five current or former public officials who worked to thwart the will of voters for their own purposes.

Democracy onlyworks when voters can trust that the results of elections are accurate andvalid. When anyone corrupts that processthrough fraud, the taint lingers and can do grave damage to public trust inelections.

The judge’sdecision to give Rainey a tough sentence emphasizes that. Compromising fairelections undermines—and sometimes entirely strips away—the most importantvoice that the people have. Elections, after all, are supposed to be about the voters—notthe candidates—deciding who will best represent the needs of theircommunity.

The people ofCanton deserve fair elections. When attempts are made to compromise thoseelections, those responsible should face serious consequences for theiractions.

That is exactlywhat is happening to the city officials of Canton who, like Rainey, betrayedthe city’s trust.

The fact thatmost acknowledged their guilt does not excuse their misconduct, but there is anotable difference between taking responsibility for one’s unethical actionsand attempting to cover them up.

Denying an abuseof power when caught red-handed is a level of audacity that society cannot—and shouldnot—tolerate, particularly when it undermines the core of our democracy.

The post Good News: Mississippi Woman Convicted After Trying to Win Votes Via Bribes appeared first on The Daily Signal.



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