Here comes the election-denier storm

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,957
52,629
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The importance of prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrectionists and keeping track of the degree to which Republicans reject President Biden’s 2020 victory ultimately has less to do with the last election and more with the future of the republic, notably in November and in 2024.

For the past two years, the GOP has been enlisting candidates who profess to believe former president Donald Trump’s false claim that he was cheated out of a second term and giving those partisan believers new powers over future election results.



Republicans increasingly play down the Capitol riot, in which Trump supporters violently interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory. Most House Republicans recently voted against legislation to make it harder for Congress to overthrow a presidential election.
No reporter has tracked these trends more painstakingly than my colleague Amy Gardner, who was also the journalist who revealed how Trump unsuccessfully pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the Peach State.
Amy’s latest is every bit as unsettling as her previous entries: “A majority of GOP nominees for House, Senate and statewide offices to be decided next month — 299 in all — have either questioned or outright denied the results of the 2020 election.”

That includes “every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in four states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined,” Amy reported.


  • “Of the roughly 300 GOP candidates on the ballot, 174 are vying for safely Republican seats, while another 51 are in neck-and-neck races.”
  • Election deniers are especially prevalent in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin not coincidentally the six battleground states in which Trump contested his defeat. That has ramifications for 2024.
  • Of the 419 Republican House nominees, 235 (56%) are election deniers. Of them 148 are in safe GOP districts, another 28 in tight races, according to the Cook Political Report. (Congress is Ground Zero for certifying or contesting a presidential result.)
As Amy notes, 139 House Republicans voted against certifying Biden’s victory a few hours after Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol. “But with 37 election deniers who are not incumbents running in safely Republican or competitive House districts, that number will almost certainly rise after November,” Amy reported.
(Sidebar: “Election denier” feels awfully stuck in the past. We need a better term for people maneuvering to potentially scuttle the next election. “Anti-democrats” falls short for a couple of reasons. Maybe “anti-republicans?” This is above The Daily 202’s pay grade.)

Worries grow​

If, as political forecasters of both parties predict, Republicans recapture the House next month, election deniers will determine who the next Speaker is. That person would serve as acting president if Congress has not certified a winner by Jan. 20.



That’s in addition to governors, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general and Senators, who could also play significant roles in the outcome.
(Sidebar: Remember that weird boomlet of speculation Republicans might make Trump the House Speaker, given that the Constitution doesn’t require the post to be filled with a member of Congress? Given the potential election-denier majority, Trump might not even need to take the job to have enormous sway over his party’s legislative and oversight agenda. That, in turn, will make keeping track of his Mar-a-Lago supplicants and lobbyists an important job.)
Remember: There’s just no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Some isolated examples (among which Republicans are amply represented), to be sure, but not on a scale that would tip the results of a presidential election. Trump’s Justice Department investigated allegations and came up empty. Given how eagerly Attorney General Bill Barr spread baseless suspicions of voter fraud, that’s pretty notable.

Amy reached out to a few experts to get their diagnosis. It wasn’t pretty.



“Scholars said the predominance of election deniers in the GOP bears alarming similarities to authoritarian movements in other countries, which often begin with efforts to delegitimize elections. Many of those promoting the stolen-election narrative, they said, know that it is false and are using it to gain power.”
“‘Election denialism is a form of corruption,’” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the author of ‘Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present’ and a historian at New York University. ‘The party has now institutionalized this form of lying, this form of rejection of results. So it’s institutionalized illegal activity. These politicians are essentially conspiring to make party dogma the idea that it’s possible to reject certified results.’”
But only if they lose, of course. Which is why this is about the future.

 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,957
52,629
113
Election deniers increasingly dominate the Republican Party — and could soon gain unprecedented power over the nation’s democratic system. That is the takeaway from an alarming investigation by The Post’s Amy Gardner. Her analysis found that a majority of GOP nominees in congressional and key statewide races this November — 299 in all — have engaged in some form of election denialism. More than 60 percent of the House candidates are running in districts with partisan profiles suggesting they are unlikely to lose. Only two states — Rhode Island and North Dakota — did not nominate a single election denier in any of the races examined by The Post, while Republicans in Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming nominated election deniers for every major race. And The Post’s latest tally captures only part of the threat.

The country does not have to sit by and watch the system unravel. Any leader claiming to believe in democracy has options to act forcefully and immediately to bolster the system against another 2020-style attack. It’s past time for them to do so.



A nationwide problem​

The Post’s numbers are ominous — but not shocking. Conspiracy-theorizing candidates defeated moderate Republicans in primary after primary this summer. The Post analysis counted candidates for Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general who had questioned President Biden’s victory, opposed counting his electoral college votes, supported partisan ballot reviews or lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 results, or attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021.
Many of the offices for which these candidates are running oversee critical parts of the election process. Governors could refuse to certify state electors or even certify bogus alternative slates. Secretaries of state not only have authority over election procedures, but they could spread public distrust after a vote by refusing to certify results or calling for unnecessary audits and recounts. And, as the country saw in 2021, members of Congress can spuriously object to counting the electoral votes states submit.
Kristina Karamo, Republican candidate for Michigan secretary of state, speaks during a rally on Oct. 1 in Warren, Mich. (Emily Elconin/Getty Images)
Mark Finchem, GOP nominee for Arizona secretary of state, speaks at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines in 2021. (Rachel Mummey/Reuters)

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano reacts as he is applauded by supporters during a rally on Oct. 1 in Phoenixville, Pa. (Mark Makela for The Washington Post)
The Post’s count does not even capture the mischief that could take place at the local level. There has been an exodus of experienced poll workers, with conspiracy theorists and partisan operatives increasingly filling the void. Election officials are also increasingly under pressure from harassment campaigns, including coordinated records requests that waste officials’ time and resources. Several states have passed laws empowering partisan poll watchers, forcing election administrators to prepare for more confrontations at polling sites.



Then there are rogue county clerks and other local officials who could do considerable damage to democracy but often fly under the radar. In Coffee County, Ga., a local elections official told The Post that she had opened her office to election deniers searching for evidence of voter fraud. A criminal investigation into the voting systems breach is ongoing. State canvassers, who are responsible for certifying vote totals, can do significant harm: In Michigan, for example, Republican state canvassers attempted this year to block an abortion rights amendment from getting onto the ballot, forcing the state Supreme Court to intervene. In 2020, Michigan’s canvassers came under pressure to refuse to certify Mr. Biden’s victory in the state — and they nearly buckled. The country might not be so fortunate next time.

Because states and localities administer elections in the United States, responsibility for preparing the electoral system for another 2020-style assault falls firstly on them. The most immediate task is investing in training and security for poll workers. While they are at it, local officials should seek to remove partisan pressures from the vote counting process by doing things such as changing the requirements for those seeking to run for state secretary of state to make the office less political.

Congress’s essential task​

Yet the greatest single measure to protect U.S. democracy lies in Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced his support last week for the Electoral Count Reform Act, which would make it harder for conspiracy theorists to hijack the electoral process and overturn a legitimate vote. It is an essential response to the wave of election deniers likely to take office next year — and, as such, it is the most important legislation federal lawmakers will have considered in recent years.


 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,957
52,629
113
The bill would reform the archaic rules governing the counting and certifying of electoral votes in presidential elections. By stitching shut many of the loopholes President Donald Trump and his allies tried to exploit to overturn his 2020 loss, the legislation could help prevent another Jan. 6 — or something even worse. It would confirm that the vice president’s role in counting electoral votes is solely ceremonial, a response to Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally toss out votes. The bill would instruct Congress to consider only one slate of electors from each state, avoiding the potential for conflicting submissions to stoke controversy about the count. And it would create a judicial review process to restrain rogue state officials from sending in unlawful slates.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Sept 23. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
The effort has garnered remarkable bipartisan support. Last week, the Senate Rules Committee, led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), advanced the bill 14-1, with only Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) voting against it. At least 11 Republicans are already on record supporting the proposal. The story of cross-aisle collaboration isn’t nearly as rosy in the House of Representatives, where an alternative bill drafted by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) received only scant GOP support. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) even whipped against it. The opposition, especially from election deniers in the House, is “sort of like a bank robber saying, ‘Please be sure to keep the door unlocked,’” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told us. The Post’s election-denier count suggests that opposition to the bill is likely to only gain strength next year, which means it is crucial for Congress to seize the opportunity to pass this legislation now.



The bill is hardly perfect, and though they seem bureaucratic and arcane, the details can make a huge difference. The legislation’s supporters have fixed some of its weaknesses already, stipulating that only “force majeure” or act-of-God-type events qualify as extraordinary and catastrophic for the purposes of extending a voting period, for example. A modification clarified that “conclusive”, governor-approved slates of electors are still subject to challenge in federal court.

Not perfect, but still good​

There’s still room for other tweaks that ought to be acceptable to both parties, most notably raising the threshold for the number of members of Congress necessary to sustain an objection to a state’s electoral slate; a large number of House Republicans tried to reject Biden electoral slates on Jan. 6, 2021, and The Post’s count suggests that the congressional GOP will soon be even more packed with election deniers. Senators could also make clearer the grounds on which lawmakers would be allowed to object. But the effort to write a perfect bill should not disrupt the effort to pass a good one. And, as it stands, the Senate’s bill is good.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on Capitol Hill in D.C. on June 8. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Capitol Hill in D.C. in 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

To their credit, some Senate Republicans have rallied behind Electoral Count Act reform, despite extreme pressures from election deniers within their own party. More should follow. Democrats should in turn rise to the occasion by throwing themselves behind the best bill they can get — whether or not it’s the one they would have written if they had gone it alone.
Responsibility for securing democracy does not lie only with Congress or state officials. In a functioning democracy, it is ultimately up to voters to decide who will govern, and the country’s democratic system is still working. Yet the rules and procedures Congress writes now might determine just how long that remains true.
The bill would reform the archaic rules governing the counting and certifying of electoral votes in presidential elections. By stitching shut many of the loopholes President Donald Trump and his allies tried to exploit to overturn his 2020 loss, the legislation could help prevent another Jan. 6 — or something even worse. It would confirm that the vice president’s role in counting electoral votes is solely ceremonial, a response to Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally toss out votes. The bill would instruct Congress to consider only one slate of electors from each state, avoiding the potential for conflicting submissions to stoke controversy about the count. And it would create a judicial review process to restrain rogue state officials from sending in unlawful slates.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Sept 23. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
The effort has garnered remarkable bipartisan support. Last week, the Senate Rules Committee, led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), advanced the bill 14-1, with only Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) voting against it. At least 11 Republicans are already on record supporting the proposal. The story of cross-aisle collaboration isn’t nearly as rosy in the House of Representatives, where an alternative bill drafted by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) received only scant GOP support. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) even whipped against it. The opposition, especially from election deniers in the House, is “sort of like a bank robber saying, ‘Please be sure to keep the door unlocked,’” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told us. The Post’s election-denier count suggests that opposition to the bill is likely to only gain strength next year, which means it is crucial for Congress to seize the opportunity to pass this legislation now.



The bill is hardly perfect, and though they seem bureaucratic and arcane, the details can make a huge difference. The legislation’s supporters have fixed some of its weaknesses already, stipulating that only “force majeure” or act-of-God-type events qualify as extraordinary and catastrophic for the purposes of extending a voting period, for example. A modification clarified that “conclusive”, governor-approved slates of electors are still subject to challenge in federal court.

Not perfect, but still good​

There’s still room for other tweaks that ought to be acceptable to both parties, most notably raising the threshold for the number of members of Congress necessary to sustain an objection to a state’s electoral slate; a large number of House Republicans tried to reject Biden electoral slates on Jan. 6, 2021, and The Post’s count suggests that the congressional GOP will soon be even more packed with election deniers. Senators could also make clearer the grounds on which lawmakers would be allowed to object. But the effort to write a perfect bill should not disrupt the effort to pass a good one. And, as it stands, the Senate’s bill is good.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on Capitol Hill in D.C. on June 8. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Capitol Hill in D.C. in 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

To their credit, some Senate Republicans have rallied behind Electoral Count Act reform, despite extreme pressures from election deniers within their own party. More should follow. Democrats should in turn rise to the occasion by throwing themselves behind the best bill they can get — whether or not it’s the one they would have written if they had gone it alone.
Responsibility for securing democracy does not lie only with Congress or state officials. In a functioning democracy, it is ultimately up to voters to decide who will govern, and the country’s democratic system is still working. Yet the rules and procedures Congress writes now might determine just how long that remains true.