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When the Iowa Democratic caucus reporting app melted down, it was a wake-up call about election security.

The caucus will go through a recount (called a recanvass) to ensure accurate results. But even though there is a robust paper trail — and votes at caucuses are public — there will be doubt about the results.

Toxic conspiracy theories flooded social media, from Democrats who thought their candidate got a raw deal and Republicans who wanted to hurt the Democrats.

The first big lesson: Always have a paper trail. A few states, including New Jersey and Tennessee, use a mix of systems that may or may not record paper results. These leave every close election in doubt.

The second big lesson: We need confidence in the system. Simply using paper is not enough.

Beyond the ballot, examples of ways to attack our elections include spreading disinformation, delaying election-night results and interfering with voter registration. We need to pay attention to such threats, too.

Unfortunately, we will face challenges in the months to come. We need to be ready.

Carol Duling, St. Paul

IMPEACHMENT

What happened to my party?

I will preface by saying I have been a lifelong Republican and for the most part conservative. Now, after three years listening to our president lie to me and the country on a daily basis, and then the pathetic example the Republicans have recently shown, I have had it. Words fail to describe how amazed I am that any common-sense individual cannot see through this man. The impeachment trial was a sham. My Republican Party ought to be ashamed. Every one of them who did not support hearing witnesses has lost any respect I may have afforded them.

This cultlike following of President Donald Trump is both alarming and truly mystifying. I would not go so far as to equate it with some of the more infamous leaders in the past 100 years, but it certainly shows how minds can be bent to do truly awful things that go against commonly held good values humans should hold.

All that being said, I am now casting all my future votes against any elected official who has supported Trump. If our country has four more years of this egocentric narcissist, then we have all entered a realm that I truly fear will impact our country in a very, very negative way. The late Sen. John McCain would be rolling in his grave at where his party is now.

Mark Rogers, Plymouth

• • •

In light of Trump’s vengeful firings, it’s obvious the impeachment process did indeed teach him a “big lesson,” in the words of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. But it wasn’t a lesson of deterrence.

Rich Cowles, Eagan

• • •

Maybe the problem is us. Maybe the threat of being targeted on social media is so frightening that our president is going to be able to continue to consolidate his power further in the next year and during a second term. Sen. Mitt Romney’s speech before voting on impeachment was right-minded and praiseworthy, just like Rep. Adam Schiff’s arguments throughout the impeachment process. But the well-reasoned arguments of Romney and Schiff were not what stood out. What was significant was the cowardice of the senators who abdicated their responsibility as elected officials out of fear of retribution from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump.

The fear of being targeted on social media is so frightening to most people that our democratic institutions and values are being eroded. From school board meetings to community activities, the herd mentality of social media makes it harder for people to take an independent stance on anything from school policy changes to the date for a block party. Courage and truth do not matter much in an autocratic state; power and the ability to coerce matter. As long as we as a society are using the unchecked power of social media to wield power, and as long as we remain scared of being targeted on it, we will continue in the direction toward the autocratic state that Trump desires.

Andy Uhler, Minneapolis

RACISM

If we can’t ask, we can’t help

I must respond to the Star Tribune’s article regarding Claudia Rankine’s play “The White Card,” which explores white supremacy and privilege (“Shuffler of a stacked deck,” Feb. 5).

While I have great respect for anyone who has the intellect, passion and drive to create art that prompts necessary conversations, I want to stand in defense of the white man who stood up at a reading of Rankine’s work and asked the black artist what he could do for her. I also want to understand Rankine’s assumption of the man’s superiority and presumed self-innocence based on his question.

In my foolish youth, I believed that slavery and racism were sins against humanity but that I was not guilty of either. Now as a middle-aged white woman, I’ve evolved to believe that slavery and racism are sins against humanity and everyone with even a shred of privilege and/or influence has an obligation to be part of the solution.

But how do we do something of impact with our white privilege if we don’t ask? If asking the question stops the conversation and labels us “white saviors,” no one is served.

Cory Gideon Gunderson, Lakeville

KLOBUCHAR

That’s not how the courts work

The headline referring to “ACLU calls to revisit Klobuchar’s murder case” (Feb. 8) is not only misleading but manifestly unfair to the senator. The fact that an innocent young girl was killed by a stray bullet is tragic. The fact that the wrong man may have been convicted of the killing is likewise tragic. But Amy Klobuchar, who was the county attorney at the time, did not try the case, and evidence that another man may be the perpetrator has arisen years after the conviction. If a wrong was committed in the trial court or afterward, it was not the senator’s fault, and there was a jury conviction following the trial. To suggest that it was “Klobuchar’s murder case” is patently wrong and deceiving; to suggest that she should abandon her presidential run is absurd and would only amount to a third tragedy.

Alan Miller, Eagan

POLITICS

Take a note from the ’60s

I read the Editorial, Readers Write and Opinion Exchange sections most days. It makes me wonder about what often seems a dismal view of life and each other.

Is what we really want a zero-sum approach to “politics” (should really be “governing”), life, relationships, families and individuals? This approach will never get us where I believe we want to be. It takes communication, thoughtful listening, turning off the noise or listening to something different occasionally, empathy, love and in most things, compromise. This is what is needed for humankind to move to a more joyful existence and future. Without it, nothing truly good and lasting will occur. The worst of us will control the dialogue, the narrative and the future.

I believe most of us have always desired peace and harmony. I hope that to be true. Imagine if instead of so much subterfuge going on, we all focused on resolving the real issues together, peacefully, in the spirit of compromise.

That might turn out to be a great thing!

Maybe I’m just a leftover cockeyed optimist from the late ’60s. If so, I can live with that.

Stewart K. Hanson, Wayzata

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