The two of us have accumulated nearly 80 years of military service on behalf of the United States. It is an honor for both of us to serve as Vice President of the Chiefs of Staff – the second highest position in our armed forces. One of us was appointed to the role by a democratic president; the other is a Republican.
As Commissioners, we have both taken an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution. And today, given the circumstances of the election, our ongoing sense of duty calls on us. We ask all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, to trust the outcome of the election: Democrat Joe Biden will be the next commander-in-chief.
The full weight of our democracy rests on a handful of principles. Above all, our collective faith as a people in the enduring strength and integrity of the American government. And no American can place his allegiance to any political party before committing himself to our nation as a whole. Therefore, to borrow a sentence from our military days, we call Bravo Sierra, who questions the legitimacy of our democratic processes.
Integrity behind elections
We would like to underline our firm belief that the vast majority of election officials are honest, hard-working civil servants whose hearts are the overriding interest of our nation. And while no human effort is flawless, there are safeguards to protect the integrity of the process.
Each state is taking concrete steps to authenticate the missing ballot papers, and each has a deadline by which it will verify its results. This year’s process was carried out with the integrity we expect as Americans. To say otherwise, without evidence, is to compromise with the sanctity of our democracy.
Much has been done about the significant number of missing ballot papers mailed due to COVID-19. The reality is that members of the armed forces have successfully voted in letters since the Civil War. During our time in the military, we cast votes from almost every corner of the world. In fact, U.S. military members vote from everywhere, including the International Space Station aboard and submarines deployed worldwide. We and our staff always have full confidence that our ballots will be received and counted.
2020 elections: Trump and polarization resulted in record participation. This is how postal voting took place, which must be universal.
Simplified: If postal voting is acceptable to members of the military, it must be acceptable to the rest of the population.
The rest of the world sees us as an example of free and fair elections
As we have seen since election day, it is a fantastic task to count the huge number of missing ballots. An estimated 65 million Americans voted in the letter. But voters need to be sure that all of these votes have been counted. That is why local officials have devoted so much time to fulfilling this enormous responsibility.
We have dedicated our lives to promoting the ideals of America abroad, often in the face of regimes that oppress their own people — from the Soviet Union to North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We have observed that in Asia, Africa, and Europe, nations view the United States as an example when holding their own democratic elections and ensuring a peaceful transition of power.
If they refuse to accept the results of these elections, it will be a lasting victory for the enemies of democracy – and a terrible blow to all those who see America as a beacon of freedom and self-determination.
Transition: To prevent future temporary clutter, Congress must determine the law
In our duties, we have understood the democratic freedoms enjoyed in this country, which are fragile – and can never be taken for granted. Yet we believe that our republic is on solid foundations; the incredible turnout this year, despite the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 epidemic, proves this fact. It is now our collective responsibility to preserve and promote, to trust in our democratic process and the outcome of the elections.
Retired Admiral Bill Owens and retired General James Cartwright are both former vice presidents of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff – the second highest-ranking U.S. military officer. Both are also members of the bipartisan National Electoral Integrity Council.
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This article was originally published on TODAY USA: Retired Admiral and General: The election was legal