Republicans who embraced Trump’s big lie are running to become election officials US news
Republicans who have embraced baseless claims about the 2020 election theft are now running for top election officials in several states, a move that could give them significant power over electoral processes.
The campaigns, first detailed by Politico last week, underline a new orientation to take control of the electoral administration. Secretaries of State, elected to fan contests who have long been overlooked, wield enormous power over electoral rules in their state, are responsible for overseeing election materials, and play a key role in the certification – formalization – of election results.
Winning secretary of state positions across the country would give conspiracy theorists enormous power to wreak havoc in the 2024 presidential election, including potentially blocking the candidates who win the most votes to take office.
“It’s an indication of wanting, fundamentally, to have a man on the inside who can undermine,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. “It is clear that these are not people who believe in the rule of law. And the people who run our government must respect the rule of law. It is therefore worrying that they are running.
In Arizona, State House Republican Mark Finchem is seeking the GOP nomination for Secretary of State, Arizona’s top election official. Finchem, who was at the United States Capitol on January 6, has repeatedly expressed support for the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement, falsely claimed the election was stolen from Donald Trump and supported efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. He is also a staunch supporter of an ongoing Republican effort to examine 2.1 million ballots in Arizona’s largest county, experts say an exercise is designed to attempt to undermine election results.
Jody Hice, a Republican Congressman from Georgia who voted to try to block Electoral College certification, is also running as his state’s top election official and Trump has already endorsed him. He’s trying to topple Brad Raffensperger, an outgoing Republican, who angered Trump after refusing to “find” vote for him there.
In Nevada, Jim Marchant, a former Republican congressional candidate who alleged fraud and tried to undo his loss last year is underway to serve as secretary of state. Kristina Karamo, a Republican who has made baseless claims about fraud in Michigan, is also in the running to be the main elected official in that country.
Finchem, Hice, Marchant and Karamo did not respond to interview requests.
Jena Griswold, Colorado’s top election official and chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, was blunt in her assessment of the four candidates. She said it was concerning that many of them were showing up in swing states where there were attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
“People who spread lies about our elections to try to help their own political parties are not good at protecting elections,” she said in an interview. “They should not be elected to these positions.”
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said she was “deeply concerned” that people who spread election lies would become the state’s top election officials.
“We are now witnessing an escalation of tactics and a proliferation of tactics that we have experimented with over the past year to undermine democracy,” she said. “And they’ve now focused on who really has authority over our elections in 2022 and 2024. And use the time now to change the rules of the game and the people who oversee it. “
The role of a secretary of state may vary in each state, but in many places they exercise enormous unilateral authority to create electoral rules and interpret electoral rules. That power manifested itself in 2020, when secretaries across the country made key decisions about accessing drop boxes and sending postal ballot requests, among other measures. After election day, Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada opposed Trump’s efforts to overturn the results, both dispelling fraud charges and by refusing to stop the certification of elections.
Michigan’s top election official Benson noted that secretaries of state are often one of the most trusted sources of information on electoral processes.
In March, Benson’s office released a dissipating detailed report allegations of anomalies in County Antrim, which had become a major concern of those who believed the election was stolen. She also rebuffed claims of wrongdoing in Detroit, where Trump used baseless fraud charges to try to stop certification of the outcome, and released a statement in March noting more than 250 audits had confirmed the election results.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, investigated allegations of GOP fraud and fraud said publicly in April there was no proof of the claim – a decision that earned him censorship from his own party. Raffensperger was one of the most prominent voices to challenge Trump last year and say there was no fraud in his state and defended manual audits and reporting that backed him up.
“You have inherent the pulpit position of the bully to amplify the truth, or in the case of bad actors, maybe amplify the misinformation,” she said. “This is another pernicious aspect of individuals who would seek this position as the State Chief Electoral Officer who are not determined to tell the truth … rather they are determined to spread the big lie or whatever. misinformation that creates chaos. ”