You really have to admire the chutzpah of so many Republican candidates, who are saying– presumably with straight faces–that if they win their contests, the election was free and fair, but if they lose, it was rigged.
I guess that’s how you tell whether an election was fair: if you win. Somehow, I find that less than persuasive…..
The GOP has been working to undermine public confidence in election results for years–in Indiana, when loathsome Todd Rokita was Secretary of State, he ushered in the nation’s first voter ID law. Whatever you think of these laws–and I’ve not been shy about my own analysis–they send a message to voters: some people are casting fraudulent votes, so maybe the election results shouldn’t be trusted. Doubts persist despite the fact that numerous studies have determined that in-person vote fraud is vanishingly rare.
Trump’s “big lie” magnified accusations of impropriety, and in a perfect demonstration of projection (accusing the other guy of your own misdeeds), GOP candidates running for state offices with responsibilities for vote administration have all but trumpeted (sorry!) their intent to show Americans what rigging an election really looks like.
A report from the Washington Post focused on the threat, but the Post is far from the only media outlet sounding the warning.
In many states, the secretary of state is the chief elections official. It’s a crucial job, but not one that many Americans have heard of, much less paid attention to.
But secretary of state races are starting to get a lot more national attention and money. Former president Donald Trump and his allies have succeeded in boosting 2020 election deniers as candidates this primary season, and in many states, they’ve won the Republican nomination. That means, by next year, election deniers could be in charge of their states’ elections, including in key swing states for the 2024 presidential race.
Actually, as the article properly notes, it’s really hard to rig a national election in America because our election oversight is so decentralized. (That may be one of the very few virtues of state-level authority over the election process.) That said, there are “ways rogue secretaries of state could use their powers to throw a wrench in elections.”
They can follow Rokita’s example, and make it harder for people to cast ballots. Or they can change the procedures governing how votes are counted — like tightening restrictions on when mail-in ballots can arrive or what signatures are accepted.
They can also authorize endless audits and recounts.
There’s nothing wrong with checking results if there’s a dispute, said Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky. But he and other election experts stress that endless audits don’t instill confidence in the democratic process; instead they allow bad actors to try to raise endless questions.
Rogue Secretaries of State can refuse to sign off on election results they don’t like, as a couple of officials did recently in New Mexico. At the very least, election-denying secretaries of state could publicly question election results, further eroding voter confidence and giving election deniers an air of legitimacy.
If enough election deniers get into office in time for the 2024 presidential election, experts worry they could together create enough chaos and confusion that they would weaken Americans’ faith in their government’s ability to hold free and fair elections.
The article identifies the states in which election deniers are currently running for positions that oversee elections. Indiana is one of them. Nevada, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut are others. Obviously, in some of those states the denialist is unlikely to win–but in deep red states like Indiana, where few voters are even aware of who’s running in down ballot races, and where majorities routinely vote for anyone with an “R” by their name, there is a real likelihood that these conspiracy theorists will win.
A columnist for the Indianapolis Star called Diego Morales–the Republican candidate for Secretary of State–“broadly unacceptable” for a number of reasons. I absolutely agree–but I wonder how many Hoosier voters know what a Secretary of State does, let alone who is running for the office.
A few weeks ago, I urged readers to support Destiny Wells, the truly impressive Democrat running for Secretary of State. I’ll just repeat how I ended that post: It’s bad enough to live in a state governed by people who want to arm the entire population (okay, to be fair, just the White part), make LGBTQ+ folks second-class citizens, control women’s bodies, and make it easier for a pandemic to kill you. The last thing we need is a nutcase “Big Lie” proponent overseeing our elections.
Just Vote Blue No Matter Who……up and down the ballot.