University of Washington Faculty and Graduate Student Community
United States of America

We the undersigned write as teachers and scholars at the University of Washington. Under normal circumstances, universities should be non-partisan places of intellectual exchange where a multitude of political ideologies can cross-fertilize and flourish. At the same time, the free inquiry at the heart of university life depends on the political freedom of the larger society. When that political freedom is under threat, teachers and scholars must act.

We write to express our concern that political freedom in the United States is in danger because of three major threats to the integrity of the November 3 election:

1. An increasingly visible effort to obstruct, delegitimize, disqualify, and exclude mailed ballots, at a time when fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19 has led to a dramatic increase in the number of citizens planning to vote by mail. This comes on top of longstanding concerted voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering tactics that disproportionately disenfranchise Black and Brown citizens, young citizens, and poor citizens. The overall effect is to shrink the electorate and make it less reflective of We the People of the United States.

2. The unprecedented refusal of the President of the United States to commit to a peaceful transition to power should he be defeated at the polls.

3. The efforts of some state politicians to reassign electoral votes after the election and substitute their partisan choices for the public will.

These three threats together undermine a central pillar of constitutional democracy: free and fair national elections. They raise the danger of a coup. A coup occurs when a government stops counting votes, declares someone a winner who did not win the most votes, or allows someone to keep power even though they lost the election.

We are also concerned about the prospect of long-term institutional damage to our constitutionally authorized electoral processes. Public faith in the integrity of our elections has steadily declined in recent decades, and we are concerned that the United States is vulnerable to the wave of backsliding into corrupt authoritarian practices that has affected several established democracies around the world.

All citizens must now take a vigilant stance in protection of a free and fair election process and of constitutional democracy. We must not await the protective efforts of party leaders and elected officeholders. Citizens must lead so that leaders will follow.

We pledge to ourselves and each other:

1. We will vote.
2. We will encourage others to vote and to commit now to realistic, actionable plans for casting their votes.
3. We will report any acts of voter intimidation or suppression that we observe.
4. We will refuse to accept the election results until all the votes are counted.
5. We will take to the streets nonviolently if a coup is attempted.

We are heartened that members of the President’s party and the armed forces have emphasized the need to respect the people’s vote. We lock arms with all fellow citizens committed to a politically free society.

Initial Signatories:

We include signatures from non-U.S. citizens working as teachers and scholars at the University of Washington. They will not vote in the November 3 election but share concerns about the integrity of the election.

Caitlin Ainsley, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Kenya Amano, Graduate Student, Political Science
Bree Bang-Jensen, Graduate Student, Political Science
Andrea Cancino Saenz, Graduate Student, Political Science
Rutger Ceballos, Graduate Student, Political Science
Emily Christensen, Graduate Student, Political Science
Mathieu Dubeau, Graduate Student, Political Science
Megan Erickson, Graduate Student, Political Science
Megan Francis, Associate Professor of Political Science
Ryan Goehrung, Graduate Student, Political Science
Jeffrey Grove, Graduate Student, Political Science
Jake Grumbach, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Brian Huang, Graduate Student, Political Science
Scott Lemieux, Assistant Teaching Professor of Political Science
Karen Litfin, Professor of Political Science
Jamie Mayerfeld, Professor of Political Science
Michael McCann, Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship
Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer, Graduate Student, Political Science
Lucas Owen, Graduate Student, Political Science
Christianna Parr, Graduate Student, Political Science
Noga Rotem, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Mark Smith, Professor of Political Science
Niko Switek, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Rebecca Thorpe, Associate Professor of Political Science
Jack Turner, Associate Professor of Political Science
Yulenni Venegas Lopez, Graduate Student, Political Science
Sophia Jordán Wallace, Associate Professor of Political Science
John Wilkerson, Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Nicolas Wittstock, Graduate Student, Political Science
Dennis Young, Graduate Student, Political Science

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The UW Teachers and Scholars for Free and Fair Elections petition to University of Washington Faculty and Graduate Student Community was written by UW Teachers and Scholars for Free and Fair Elections and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.