More than 80 candidates who have made false claims about the 2020 election or supported Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” are running for state offices that run, oversee or protect elections, according to a new report.
Trump has targeted many state-level races in Georgia, after Republicans like Georgia. Gov. Brian KempArizona Gov. Doug DuceyHe refused to assist him in his efforts to reverse his loss. Brad Raffensperger(a Republican), and Arizona Secretary of States Katie Hobbs(a Democrat), repeatedly discredited his baseless allegations of fraud. This trend is not limited only to the few battleground states which decided the 2020 elections.
At least 51 Republican candidates who have falsely claimed that Trump won the election, spread lies about the election’s legitimacy, backed “forensic” audits, promoted conspiracy theories or took other actions to undermine election integrity are running for governor in 24 states, according to States United Action, a nonpartisan group that tracks election denier candidates for office. In some states, multiple election denier candidates are running for office in the same primary.
At least 21 election denier candidates are running in 18 states for secretary of state, which would give them the power to supervise voting in their respective states. Another 11 election deniers are running to be attorney general, which would allow them to get involved with election litigation and law enforcement matters.
“We are seeing Democrat and Republican statewide officials who defended the will of the people in 2020 being challenged or primaried by Election Deniers in red and blue states alike,” former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, co-chair of States United Action, released a statement. “Elections are national events run by the states, so these positions are critical to a government of, by, and for the people. It’s important that we pay attention, and early, to the rhetoric about our election system happening in these down-ballot races.”
Secretaries of state in particular proved to be key in undermining Trump’s post-election crusade. Both parties had secretaries of state who certified the election results and protected Trump from lawsuits. Raffensperger, by example, was able to resist a barrage from Trump asking him questions. “find” enough votesto overturn the election. He was accompanied by many other top election officials. months of death threatsThank you for your efforts.
Trump has endorsed Rep. Jody Haice, R.Ga. who is challenging Raffensperger in the primary election. Hice supported the 2020 election. multiple lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election in Georgia, saying he was “not convinced at all” that President Biden won the state even after three recounts confirmed the results. Hice also spread conspiracy theories that voting machines changed votes from Trump’s to Biden. Hice objected to the certification of Biden’s victory in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, which he called “our 1776 moment,” even after hundreds of Trump supporters assaulted Capitol Police officers and hunted lawmakers through the halls of Congress.
Trump is also supporting Mark Finchem as he campaigns against Hobbs in Arizona’s secretary of state race. Hobbs lost to Trump by less than 11,000 voters. Finchem attended the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and has acknowledged his tiesTo the Oath Keepers, an extreme-right militia whose leader as well as other members were charged with seditious conspiracyIn the riot. Finchem has repeatedly insisted that Trump won the 2020 race, was a key supporter of the failed Maricopa County “audit” and has since introduced legislation that would require all voters’ ballots to be published online and require all ballots to be counted by hand — a nod to the numerous conspiracy theories around Arizona’s so-called audit. Finchem is also cosponsoring a bill which would allow the state legislature. “accept or reject”The results of a presidential vote, without establishing clear criteria to reject them.
Trump is also targeting Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who fended off multiple legal challenges to the state’s election. Trump has endorsed Kristina Karmo, a professor at a community college who claimed she saw fraudulent ballots count in Detroit while serving as a poll challenger. These claims were rejected by Trump. courtBy local election officials. Karamo later pushed conspiracy theoriesThe voting machines had switched Trump’s votes to Biden, and that the Capitol riot was not orchestrated by Trump supporters but rather antifa.
According to States United Action, more than a dozen other election denier candidates are running in other states, including swing states like Nevada and Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and New Mexico. (Biden won four of the first four, while Trump carried Ohio by narrow margins.
Benson warned that these election deniers are vying for positions that could potentially allow them to “change election results.”
Misinformation spread by Trump supporters and threats against election officials are all part of a “multi-tier effort designed to, in some ways, create a ripe environment that could accept the results of an election being overturned because there’s been so much confusion and chaos and instances of illegitimacy suggested through various means,” Benson told reporters on Wednesday. “This misinformation campaign is also a critical component of enabling these individuals … to be poised to block or overturn election results that they don’t support.”
Nearly two dozen election deniers running as secretary of state are only a small portion of the election conspiracists looking to control elections at multiple levels. Trump allies also seek to place Trump supporters in key local election positions at both the county and municipal level.
“Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate,” Trump said earlier this month.
“There are local efforts to place individuals on local canvassing boards who also play a role in certifying our elections,” Benson said. “You have a clear line for election subversion in the future if these individuals are elected with his support.”
Trump is also seeking candidates to challenge governors who have opposed his postelection efforts. He recently convinced former Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., to challenge Kemp in this year’s GOP primary, much to the chagrin of many Georgia Republicans who are still reeling from losing both U.S. Senate seats in a January 2021 runoff election after Trump stoked conspiracies about the November election.
Perdue stated that he would not have certifiedThe 2020 election and filed a baseless lawsuit in December, nearly a year after his loss to Democrat Jon Ossoff, claiming that election officials in Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold, had “circumvented the majority vote” and echoing other debunked conspiracy theories about the results. He recently suggested the idea for an election police forceFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis also supported the idea. Ron DeSantis.
Trump is also aiming to replace Ducey, the Arizona governor — who is leaving office due to term limits — with former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who has called for “decertification” of the 2020 electionIt is not legal to do so. Lake was a key supporter of the Maricopa County audit and has repeatedly claimed that the election was “stolen.” Last fall called for Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state who is herself also running for governor, to be imprisonedjournalists should be investigated for unspecified criminal acts, and it was similarly suggested that journalists should also be investigated “locked up”For failing to support proTrump election lies.
About two-thirds (or more) of the states that have gubernatorial elections this election are being run by election deniers. This includes swing states like Florida, Colorado and Michigan. (With the exception Florida, Biden won all these states in 2020.
“All of these people are running in the very same election system that they’re criticizing,” Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said on a press call. “The irony is, there’s no greater sign of approval that you’re willing to spend a year of your life, some of your money, some of your friends’ money running for the system. Vladimir Putin is the only candidate. You know what the outcome’s going to be in a truly rigged election. Why would you waste your money and time? The reality is, these people are revealing their true opinion that they don’t think that the system is wholly corrupt, that they have so much confidence in the system that they’re willing to invest their political future and professional future in that very system. … I think that’s truly revealing.”
The Republican-led legislatures across America are imposing new voting restrictions. Opponents worry that these restrictions will reduce voter turnout, especially in urban areas or communities of color that tend not to vote Democratic. State legislatures last year introduced more than 260 bills that would “interfere with the nonpartisan administration of elections,” according to States United ActionIn 17 states, 32 of these laws were passed. Republicans have already kicked off this year’s legislative sessions with a flurry of new proposed voting restrictions, even in states that already passed sweeping new laws in response to Trump’s conspiracy theories last year.
“The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results,” Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, said in a statement. “With extreme candidates running on election lies as a campaign issue up and down the ballot, it’s never been more important to elect leaders from both sides of the aisle who respect the rule of law and the will of the voters.”