Destroying trust in elections also kills faith in criminal justice, warns Sim Gill and others

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill at a press conference on August 21, 2020.

Politicians who try to create doubt about whether this year’s elections will be fair threaten to crush Americans' faith in the criminal justice system too, warns Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and 78 other law enforcement leaders nationwide.

“Public trust in democracy, the rule of law, and the integrity of our government is integral to public safety. When one system is attacked and fails, it compromises the ability of all systems to function, including our criminal justice system,” the statement said. “And when communities do not trust us, we cannot effectively keep them safe.”

The statement was issued by Fair and Safe Prosecution, a group dedicated to fairness in the criminal justice system. Gill signed it along with 11 state attorneys general and dozens of district attorneys, prosecutors and sheriffs.

The statement comes amid such controversy as President Donald Trump saying that by-mail voting could make the upcoming election “the most inaccurate and fraudulent in history.” Trump also recently called for use of law enforcement at polls to guard against voter fraud.

In his own separate statement, Gill, who was born in India, said, "As an immigrant American myself, I can personally attest to the unique role due process and election integrity play in this country as opposed to so many nations where tyranny and oppression of political minorities is the norm.

“Any effort by politicians or others to limit each citizens' ability to cast a ballot consistent with that individual’s own conscience and beliefs should be vigorously condemned by every elected official regardless of party affiliation.”

He added, “Free and fair elections are a vital, indeed crucial, component of the American democratic ideal.”

The statement by the 79 law enforcement officials nationally said deploying law enforcement officials to the polls, as Trump has suggested, “raises the prospect of voter intimidation, damaging bonds of trust between law enforcement and communities they serve. This is playing out at a time when the number of Americans expressing confidence in law enforcement has fallen to an all-time low.”

It added, “We condemn the threat to deploy law enforcement to the polls. The president lacks the jurisdictional authority to give orders to state and local law enforcement. Moreover, there is no legitimate purpose in sending law enforcement to the polls — voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.”