ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash said he was “alarmed” at the U.S. Capitol storming that took place last week on the day Congress met to certify the Electoral College.
“As far as the protest and what took place in Washington D.C., of course it’s very discouraging,” he said. “... I’m as alarmed as anybody, and we need to get back to working these things out in a civil manner and doing them as locally as possible.”
A rally in the nation’s capital spoken at by outgoing President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Jan. 6, was attended by what some estimated to be more than 100,000 people. A large group of the protesters — who were hoping Congress would call for an audit of votes in several states where there have been allegations of election fraud — marched to the Capitol. Then a group from there stormed the building, forcing the building into lockdown for several hours. Four people were reported to have died.
“Truthfully my take on it is I’m no more pleased with that then with the burning of cities all last year,” said Commissioner Susan Roberts, referring to the numerous riots that plagued the nation during the summer of 2020. “One does not make the other correct.”
Roberts said she was disappointed in the actions last summer, and expressed the same sentiment around last week’s events at the Capitol.
“I certainly understand people’s frustration with a lot of things,” she said. “Being frustrated doesn’t give license to do what people did all summer long or (at) this event, too.”
Nash said a lot of the reaction last week was due to members of the public wanting to make sure “those votes that came in were qualified.”
He said that those decisions are “local-level decisions,” and expressed his own confidence in the way the election was handled locally.
“For us here in Wallowa County I have full confidence that our clerk, Sandy Lathrop, qualifies the votes here of what comes through, the way the signatures are checked and she sends that on to the secretary of state and it’s qualified there at the state level,” he said.
Commissioner John Hillock also expressed confidence in the local election process.
“It’s pretty hard to have fraud in the voter process in Wallowa County,” he said. “There’s too many checks and balances in our little community. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be voter fraud in other communities at a larger scale.”
Nash said he does not believe there was a nationwide conspiracy to see the election tilted to President-elect Joe Biden because of the local aspect of elections.
“I think the old saying that all politics are local applies here,” he said.
He did, however, note that concerns of tampering should be dealt with.
“If there is a lack of confidence in how votes are qualified in a county or township, it needs to be addressed there,” he said. “Those folks are elected officials, that’s the recourse that the public has.”
Hillock also said an audit would not have been bad.
“It definitely doesn’t hurt to look at things,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with looking into it. ...Maybe (an audit) wasn’t warranted, maybe it was warranted. I don’t know.”
Nash wouldn’t say whether members of Congress acted “right or wrong” in their attempt to challenge certain states’ results, but did think a move to ease any doubt would have been helpful.
“They weren’t asking to override any policy, they were asking for an audit,” he said. “I think an audit to help quell some of what is going on out there with people not having full confidence in the election, I don’t think is a bad thing. It’s always tough. People want this thing to be over, and we want to move on with whatever comes now.”
Roberts also said she was OK with further verification of the election.
“In almost every case of anything, a little more discussion isn’t going to hurt anybody. If you read what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it, it’s not unheard of,” she said. “I don’t think they were outside of their bounds.”