More Republicans are piling onto conspiracy theories about vote counting

More Republicans are piling onto conspiracy theories about vote counting
U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar speaking with supporters at the 2018 election eve rally hosted by the Arizona Republican Party at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, Arizona, photo via Gage Skidmore.
Election '20

To read Donald Trump's Twitter feed, you'd think that counting votes is an inherently suspicious activity. As his campaign files lawsuits to try to stop votes from being counted in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump is frenetically trying to whip up his base against any vote-counting activity that might not help him—and a series of House Republicans are acting as his winged monkeys, throwing their weight into legitimizing Trump's efforts to delegitimize the basis of democracy.

Trump has promoted a Breitbart piece attacking Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and announced, as if it was evidence of wrongdoing, "We are winning Pennsylvania big, but the PA Secretary of State just announced that there are 'Millions of ballots left to be counted.'" Four of Trump's tweets in the past 24 hours have gotten Twitter warning messages that "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process."

He has help.

Rep. Paul Gosar bragged about having joined Trump supporters outside the site where ballots were being counted in Maricopa County. The aggressive group was apparently motivated by a conspiracy theory about votes being changed rather than counted, and it included far-right anti-immigration activists and threatened reporters.

Rep. Kevin Brady repeated Trump's lies about vote counting being conducted in secrecy, cloaking a lie as a call for transparency. That transparency already exists, however—though law enforcement in more than one city has had to defend vote-counting sites against mobs of Trump supporters trying to get inside to disrupt counting. Rep. Jim Banks tied together a Peter Strzok conspiracy theory with a reference to "the shady ballot counting happening in WI, MI and PA." You know, the ballot counting. Which Republicans insist must be shady, because it's not going their way.

The majority of the Pennsylvania state House tweeted that "The failure of Pennsylvania to have firm election results on Election Day is an openly partisan failure by Democrats from the Wolf administration to the PA Supreme Court." Except the failure of Pennsylvania to have firm election results on Election Day is a direct result of Republican legislators blocking election officials from counting or even processing mail ballots before Election Day!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich enthusiastically jumped on board with claims that "Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania are all being stolen by Democrats." Again, because votes are being counted.

That's the substance of Republican angst: Votes are being counted, and those votes may not go the way Republicans want them to go. That must be the result of conspiracy and cheating and outright theft by Democrats, they claim, with a big dose of rage that the votes of Black people are being counted at all.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden's message is simple: "Every vote must be counted."

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