Report details how Big Lie-promoting MAGA Republicans are moving closer to seizing control of elections
The voter suppression bills passed by GOP-controlled state legislatures all over the U.S. are being slammed by Democrats for making voting more difficult by reducing or eliminating early voting or discouraging the use of mail-in ballots. But as bad as those things are, something much more sinister and nakedly authoritarian is coming from MAGA Republicans in 2022: an effort to take control of the administration of elections, making it easier for them to simply throw out election results if they don’t like the outcome. And if the results of the 2022 midterms put enough “Stop the Steal” Republicans in control of elections, they may have a chance to do exactly that in 2024.
In an article published by the New York Times on June 15, reporters Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti take a look at MAGA efforts to gain control of election systems in key swing states such as Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Their article was published the morning after Jim Marchant, a far-right Big Lie promoter who falsely claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, won the GOP nomination for Nevada secretary of state.
“The potential for far-right Republicans to reshape the election systems of major battleground states is growing much closer to reality,” Epstein and Corasaniti warn. “As the halfway point nears of a midterm year that is vastly friendlier to Republicans, the party’s voters have nominated dozens of candidates for offices with power over the administration and certification of elections who have spread falsehoods about the 2020 presidential contest and sowed distrust in American democracy. The only way to restore trust, these candidates say, is by electing them.”
The reporters continue, “In Michigan, Pennsylvania and now Nevada, Republican voters have elevated candidates who owe their political rise to their amplification of doubts about Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s victory, and who are now vying in elections for governor, secretary of state and attorney general — offices that will hold significant sway over the administration of the 2024 presidential election in critical swing states.”
In Pennsylvania, a key swing state that now-President Joe Biden won by only 2 percent in 2020, the Republican gubernatorial nominee is Doug Mastriano — a conspiracy theorist and Christian nationalist who is so extreme that he is even to the right of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. And in Michigan, the far-right GOP nominee for secretary of state is Kristina Karamo. Mastriano and Karamo both falsely claim that Trump won their states in 2020 despite the fact that recounts confirmed Biden’s victory.
“The rise of election deniers is far from over,” Epstein and Corasaniti note. “Primary contests coming later this month in Colorado and in early August in Arizona and Wisconsin will provide more clarity on the depth of Republican voters’ desire to rally behind candidates devoted to the false idea that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump.”
The events that followed the 2020 presidential election were unprecedented in U.S. history. Never before in U.S. history had an incumbent president lost an election only to falsely claim that he didn’t, then do everything he could to get the election results overturned. Never before in U.S. history had the supporters of a defeated president violently attacked the U.S. Capitol Building in order to keep him in the White House and threatened to lynch the vice president for not going along with them.
Ben Berwick, counsel for the nonpartisan Protect Democracy, told the Times, “We are in a dangerous place at the moment. There is a substantial faction in this country that has come to the point where they have rejected the premise that when we have elections, the losers of the elections acknowledge the right of the winner to govern.”
Campaigning on the Big Lie isn’t necessarily a recipe for victory in a GOP primary. In Georgia’s 2022 gubernatorial primary, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp — who acknowledges that Biden won his state fair and square in 2020 — defeated former Sen. David Perdue, a Trump-endorsed Big Lie promoter, by a brutal 52 percent. Perdue campaigned on the Big Lie, and he suffered a humiliating defeat.
But other Big Lie promoters, including Marchant and Mastriano, have won primaries.
“The number of election deniers who have won Republican nominations is quickly rising in congressional and state legislative races across the country,” Epstein and Corasaniti observe. “At least 72 members of Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 election have advanced to the general election, according to a New York Times analysis. And in Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas — four competitive states that have already held primaries — 157 state legislators who took concrete steps to overturn or undermine the 2020 election will be on the ballot in November.”
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, is running for reelection and is up against Audrey Trujillo, a MAGA Republican and Big Lie promoter. Trujillo won her party’s nomination on June 7.
Oliver told the Times, “We’re going to see at least one, if not more, election deniers rise to these offices in 2022. And I think we need to be scared and concerned about every single one of them.”
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