The Civil Servants Who Became the Unlikely TV Stars of Election Week
It felt like an episode of “The West Wing.” Civil servants in battleground states were thrust into the spotlight as the nation’s political future hung in the balance of vote-counting efforts in convention centers and sports arenas. State and local officials with election-related duties put a human face on voting in America as they updated an anxious world on the status of the count, in 100,000- , 10,000- and 1,000-ballot increments. The prevalence of articulate government pros speaking with authority about the sanctity of the vote made it that much harder to buy into conspiracy theories about massive voter fraud.
Here’s a rundown of supporting characters who had star turns in the epic limited series that was Election Week.
Arizona Secretary of State
Hobbs brought a bright smile and an air of confidence to her reports on Arizona’s process. “There’s no legal ground for us to stop counting ballots,” she told CBS News on Nov. 5 with the no-nonsense tone of a beloved kinder-garten teacher. Speaking from the backdrop of what appeared to be a snug office with a poster of a cactus and the word “VOTE” only added to her Southwestern charm.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State
Boockvar had the challenge of explaining the nitty-gritty of recent legal changes to Pennsylvania’s vote-tallying process to an angsty nation in multiple live news conferences. She kept her cool even when asked about her Trump-bashing tweets from four years ago — before she was in her state post. “I took an oath to defend and protect the constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and of the United States,” she said on Nov. 5 with a mixture of earnestness and exasperation that ended the subject.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Shapiro’s disgust at the suggestion of widespread voter fraud and corruption in Pennsylvania was palpable. Referring to the SCOTUS decision to allow ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted through Nov. 6, he told MSNBC on that latter date: “This attempt by Donald Trump and those aligned with him to get those ballots thrown out and run to the Supreme Court — clearly that’s failed,” in comments that went viral after his teenage son ambled in on the live interview.
Clark County (Nevada) Registrar of Voters
Gloria proved unflappable during a news conference on Nov. 4 when an agitated man in a muscle T (with the slogan “BBQ Beer Freedom”) ran up behind him shouting about the “Biden crime family” and election fraud. “What was the last question?” Gloria asked after the hubbub died down. Gloria was also a model of coronavirus safety in wearing a mask throughout his daily 10 a.m. briefings.
Philadelphia City Commissioner
Sabir endeared himself to many viewers when he stepped up to the podium at a Nov. 6 news conference and decried efforts to interfere with the count at the city’s Pennsylvania Convention Center. “Democracy has won! Democracy is beautiful!” he enthused, then added with a sheepish grin, “Hi, wife.”
Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
Duncan, a Republican, put electoral integrity over party when he calmly rejected claims from the Trump camp that Georgia was rife with election fraud because the state’s voting system was “controlled by Democrats,” as the president put it in his middle-of-the-night appearance on Nov. 4. Duncan consistently stated otherwise, as he did in a Nov. 9 appearance on CNN.
“At this point, we’ve not seen any sort of credible examples,” he assured with great credibility.
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