When President Joe Biden was campaigning last year, he said that Republicans would have “an epiphany” when Donald Trump left office and find ways to work with Democrats. To the contrary, Republicans have doubled down on Trump’s anti-democratic efforts to manipulate elections to their advantage.
Using the evidence-free Big Lie that Democrats stole the presidency by committing mass voter fraud as an excuse, Republican state lawmakers have passed or proposed hundreds of voter suppression bills, many that will have disproportionate effects on people of color and young voters, constituencies that tend to support Democrats.
The GOP isn’t just trying to cancel votes it doesn’t like. It’s also seeking to interfere with the certification process after votes are cast. And because of its incessant lie that Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election—nearly seven in 10 Republicans believe this, according to a recent poll—it will have no shortage of extremists ready to sabotage democracy on its behalf.
The likely outcome of this anti-democratic Republican plot is that numerous right-wing conspiracy theorists will administer elections in many states. Without new federal voting protections in place, these bad actors may be able to suppress enough liberal voters and manipulate the vote tabulation process to do what Trump couldn’t—steal elections from Democrats.
Sacking Elections Officials Who Did Their Jobs
As they pass laws to make election subversion easier, Republicans in several states are working to oust or reduce the power of secretaries of state, whose departments oversee elections.
In Arizona, where the state Senate set up a bizarre and highly suspicious “audit” of the 2020 elections in Maricopa County, the GOP recently passed a budget that stripped Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of any role in elections-based litigation. Republicans didn’t attempt to hide the partisan goal of the provision, which sunsets at the end of Hobbs’ term.
Arizona Rep. Shawnna Bollick, one of the ringleaders of Republican efforts to annul Biden’s victory in the state, just announced her campaign for secretary of state. Bollick, who is married to a state Supreme Court justice, sponsored a bill enabling the legislature to override its constituents’ votes and choose the winner, giving lawmakers the ability to overturn the election results even after Congress has certified them. The Phoenix Republican co-chairs the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) secretive elections working group, which develops policy on voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering.
Two other Republican Arizona secretary of state candidates are also affiliated with ALEC: state Rep. Mark Finchem, a top promoter of Trump’s Big Lie and marched with insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a sponsor of voter suppression legislation who has faced sexual harassment allegations.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who refused Trump’s shocking request to “find 11,000 votes” so he could overtake Biden’s lead, faces a Trump-backed primary challenge from Rep. Jody Hice, who voted to overturn the election results. This year, state lawmakers removed the secretary of state as the chair of the state elections board and eliminated its voting authority on the board.
Republican Kristina Karamo, who sought to overturn Michigan’s election results, is running for secretary of state, as is Jim Marchant of Nevada, who sued to reverse his five-point congressional loss last year.
The GOP is also going after members of elections boards and other officials who haven’t promoted conspiracy theories.
Republicans in Michigan pushed out a GOP elections auditor who certified the state’s presidential election, replacing him with the head of the right-wing Michigan Freedom Fund.
And, under a new local elections law in Georgia, both major political parties no longer choose county election board members. Republican-led county commissions have already removed several Black Democrats from these boards and will likely replace them with GOP allies. Proponents of the law change claim it will reduce the influence of the political parties, despite it further politicizing the appointments.
Congressional Democrats plan to introduce a bill that would combat state laws granting legislatures the ability to remove state elections board members and local election supervisors and replace them with partisan officials who might overturn elections in favor of the GOP.
That measure is likely to meet the same fate as the Democrats’ landmark voting rights legislation, the For the People Act, as long as conservative Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema block any change to the Senate’s filibuster rule, which was designed to protect white supremacy.
QAnon Will Try to Storm Elections
As state lawmakers attempt to take full control over election administration, right-wing extremists are vying for local positions. Influencers in the pro-Trump conspiracy movement QAnon, which the FBI says poses a domestic terror threat, are inspiring their like-minded followers to sign up as Republican precinct committee members, who help decide on higher-level elections appointments. One Arizona committee member appeared on multiple QAnon podcasts and urged his followers to “invade the Republican Party.”
These efforts come as roughly one in three elections officials—the people who run polling places, maintain voter rolls, and count and certify election results—were concerned about “being harassed on the job” or “feeling unsafe” at work during the 2020 election cycle, according to a Brennan Center for Justice survey.
A report about the survey cites “threats of violence and other safety concerns,” “increased disinformation being spread about elections, especially online and often by public officials,” and “rising pressure to prioritize party interests over a democratic process” as three of the four factors that made these workers’ jobs more dangerous. It lists these solutions to this anti-democracy movement.
The risk to election officials is so severe that on June 25 the Justice Department announced a task force that will combat “menacing and violent threats” that these officials face.
Unsurprisingly, election officials are quitting their posts in key swing states. Pro-Trump zealots will be eager to take their places.
Meanwhile, a number of fringe conspiracy theorists have become chairs of their state parties, many of them after Trump left office. The Republican leaders include Oklahoma GOP Chair John Bennett, who called for Hillary Clinton’s execution and says Islam is “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” Bennet enjoyed the endorsement of ex-felon Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, who openly promotes QAnon.
The Texas GOP under Allen West adopted a slogan central to QAnon conspiracists, “We are the storm.”
Republican politicians are also busy dismantling other democratic traditions, such as limiting ballot initiatives and planning to further gerrymander already biased state legislative and congressional voting districts in their favor.
This gerrymandering could result in a GOP majority in the House which could, unlike in 2020, vote to overturn the 2024 results if a Democrat wins.
Everywhere I look, I see articles like this. Extremely depressing as I wonder, whats the point of voting? It no longer matters as there is no democracy. I feel this way, think this way because I see no remedy. Its like not a damn thing is being done to stop this. Is there an answer? If there is, I don’t see anyone addressing it. To say I feel helpless is an understatement. I am not along in feeling this way.
I wouldn’t trust Bollick to run an ice cream store. She isn’t advocating election security; she’s advocating overturning the Constitution itself. Has she read it?
To use an old Irish expression, I can feel the gravy running out of me. Again and again, I ask myself: why don’t we all just GIVE UP and say that multiracial democracy will never ever win against all this well-financed and heavily-supported White chicanery, so let’s all pack up and leave? Then I think of Frederick Douglass and I’m re-strengthened to some extent. But I think we need to strengthen each other, and scare the s**t out of the still-complacent, a lot more than we’re currently doing.
The fact so many people do not understand that Trump is a horrible person and was even a worse President is alarming; he unabashedly caters to the rich, allowing tax-cuts for middle class to expire beginning 2025, his mafia behavior, seeking revenge when he feels slighted, a man that has operated his entire life with total impunity from the law; a man that incited an insurrection against our Capitol and our Democracy now doing everything he can to destroy / rig our voting system is disgraceful.
Trump aided and abetted by people like Mitch McConnell that condemns him one moment, then supports him the next to retain power along with the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Green, Rand Paul, Opal Boebert, and all the other congress critters that voted to overturn a free, fair election is an attack on our democracy and our way of life in the United States.
Mary Trump and others in his own family has said Trump will destroy the U.S. and democracy if he can (revenge for losing); Trump envisions a corporate run country with himself as the autocrat; that, my friends is Fascism! Think it can’t happen in the U.S.? Remember Hitler promised the disenchanted a better life; people loved him, he gave them Nazism, and the holocaust, we must be very thoughtful who we hand unbridled power to; Trump and his enablers are not worthy of such power.