OPINION: Morales' election comments are concerning

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Jun. 28—Former Mike Pence aide Diego Morales is seeking to hold a position as Indiana's top election official after agreeing with a lie that led to threats against his former boss.

Morales was selected this month by Republican delegates as the party's secretary of state nominee. The most important facets of a secretary of state's job are to ensure the integrity of elections and to protect voter access. Based on Morales' comments, we should question whether he's qualified to do either.

According to an Associated Press story, Morales called the 2020 election a "scam" and has attempted to woo Donald Trump supporters by agreeing with the former president's false claims about President Joe Biden's victory.

Columnist Brian Howey wrote in a June 23 piece that Morales' camp had tried to walk back that stance in a text message, but Howey also reported that the Republican had called the 2020 election "flawed" and its outcome "questionable" in a March 8 article on the website Hoosier State Today.

So what's a Hoosier to believe about the man who could be in charge of the state's 2024 election? We can start with what we know.

We know that shortly after Trump's speech on Jan. 6, 2021, an angry mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence" while overrunning the Capitol. We know that no credible evidence that the 2020 election was stolen has been presented. We know that despite the attack, Pence stayed the course and certified the election results.

You can do your own research to verify those facts. There's ample video evidence of what occurred on that terrible day, and even election audits conducted by Trump supporters showed the results were accurate. In fact, an audit by Arizona Republicans revealed only that Biden received more votes than initially reported.

So what does it say when a candidate, in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, still agrees with a lie? Can such a candidate be trusted to guarantee the rightful winners of Indiana elections are confirmed? This isn't just a concern for Democrats, as it's highly unlikely Indiana will turn Blue in the 2024 election. With division in their own ranks, Republicans should be mindful of who is given election authority.

After winning his party's nomination on June 18, Morales told reporters he wants to cut the number of early voting days in half to save taxpayer money. His suggestion would come in stark contrast to the 2020 election when more than 1.7 million Hoosiers voted early.

Election officials should seek ways to encourage more voting, not take away opportunities to cast ballots. Crowding polling sites by reducing early voting days would discourage voting, and it would further stress election officials.

In attempting to win an election, candidates sometimes say some strange things. Hopefully, Morales' comments were simply voter courtship, as, unfortunately, many still cling to Trump's discredited assertions.

To protect democracy, we must have strong officials who stand for truth. Pence was ousted as vice president because of the 2020 election, yet he didn't succumb to threats and pressure to attempt to stop Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris from taking office. Can we trust that Morales, if elected in November, will have the same fortitude as his former boss?