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The election is over

To the candidates who have taken down their campaign signs, the island says thank you. And to all the politicians who have not gotten around to it, do you mind if we ask what you’re waiting for?

While cruising Maui’s increasingly busy roads this week, we spotted campaign signs attached to fences in Paia and Maalaea. Others were still in yards in Kahului and Wailuku. While some touted first-time candidates who may not be aware of island protocols, quite a few were for incumbents who should know better.

It is a common courtesy and long-held Maui tradition for signs to come down a day or two after an election. This is about more than clearing the clutter and returning our roadways to sign-free environments, it is confirmation that the election fights are over.

No matter how salty you feel about the results, or how bitter the campaign, the public has spoken. Now it is time to set aside the rhetoric and move forward together. That is the American way. Winners and losers shake hands and agree to join forces for the good of all. They urge their supporters to do the same.

And then came this year’s presidential election.

Despite losing the popular vote and the Electoral College, President Trump and his enablers are moving to invalidate the results that elected Joseph Biden the next president. Lack of evidence of fraud or voting irregularities does not matter to Trump. Nor does strong pushback from state election officials who stand by their work.

As the political chess match begins, we’re left wondering if these are the opening salvos of America’s first coup or democracy in action.

For his part, Biden has refused to take the bait. His people are probably working feverishly on the issue behind the scenes, but he appears focused on key challenges facing the nation, issues that include the pandemic, economy and the growing divide between America’s populace.

What’s truly tragic is the shadow Trump’s Hail Mary casts over a cornerstone of our democracy, election integrity. His allegations, which are reportedly baseless, imply election officials in states he lost are either slipshod fools or nefarious cheats. That is far from our experience with poll workers and does not jibe with reportage across the country.

Sadly, millions of people are going to take the president at his word. Dedicated poll workers who put their health on the line for this important election will be vilified. Systems proven to prevent voter fraud will be unfairly tarnished for a long time to come, if not forever.

Bringing this gambit to a close seems destined to be messy and will likely divide the country even further. When the dust settles, however, we have faith that American democracy will prevail.

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