GOP election officials are walking a fine line on fraud and integrity ahead of 2024
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Republican secretaries of state in Ohio, West Virginia and Missouri have touted their state elections as fair and safe. But everyone walks a fine line when it comes to addressing voter fraud conspiracies as they prepare campaigns for the US Senate or Governor in 2024.
Ohio’s split-screen messaging Frank LaRoseWest Virginias Mac Warner and Missouri Jay Ashcroft shows how deeply election lies have ingrained themselves in the Republican Party, where more than half of the voters believe that Democrat Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President. Even election officials who promote clean-at-home elections routinely push for more Voting Restrictions and additional review of the process as they prepare for it GOP primary voters Next year.
All three withdrew their states last month by the Electronic Registration Information Center, a bipartisan, multi-state effort to ensure accurate voter rolls. LaRose did so less than a month after calling the group “one of the best anti-fraud tools we have” and vowing to keep Ohio membership alive. He resisted backlash against the organization fueled by former President Donald Trump before backing down.
The three have also supported increased voting restrictions in their states – part of a national trend for Republicans, who they say intend to boost public trust. These bills introduce new requirements for voter ID cards, reduce ballot processing windows, or facilitate constituency consolidation.
For Republicans seeking higher office, “it’s difficult to skip some of these things if you want to be successful,” said Nancy Martorano Miller, associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton.
That includes responding to the beliefs of Republican voters Trump’s false claims a stolen 2020 presidential election while promoting the work they are doing in their own states.
“You’re secretary of state, so it’s your job to run elections and make sure they’re toll-free,” Martorano Miller said. “You’re kind of stuck between ‘I need to show that I’m doing these things to fight cheating,’ but at the same time ‘If I make it seem like there’s too much cheating, it makes it seem like I don’t do my job.’”
Warner and Ashcroft have announced campaigns for governor, while LaRose is considering running for the US Senate.
As he revealed legislation In February, which aimed to standardize election data, LaRose said it was about creating transparency so voters could have “confidence that the true voice of the people will be heard when the election is over.”
A few weeks later, he sat on a voting panel entitled “They Stole It From Us Legally” at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
LaRose’s spokesman said the panel had been renamed at the last minute, but the secretary took the opportunity to promote the integrity of Ohio’s elections.
“Voter fraud is extremely rare in Ohio because we take voter security very seriously, aggressively prosecute those who commit it and refer the potential crime to the Attorney General and county prosecutors,” said Rob Nichols.
Similar, Ashcroft said Missouri has safe elections and commended Gov. Mike Parson for signing a package of electoral law changes last year that included a new photo ID requirement.
“Missouri voters are passionate about their right to vote,” he said. “This law makes Missouri’s elections safer and more transparent, which inspires confidence and trust.”
Then, in January, Ashcroft hosted a meeting at his office MyPillow CEO Mike Lindella conspiracy theorist touring the country fuel distrust in elections. The meeting alarmed some pro-suffrage advocates in the state.
Warner defended himself Trump’s false claims a fraudulent 2020 election and demonstrated alongside Stop the Steal protesters while promoting the integrity of the West Virginia election.
He said in a recent interview that he is working to strike a balance between those on the right who believe the 2020 election was stolen and those on the left who argue “there’s nothing to see here”. .
“The truth obviously lies somewhere in the middle,” he said, adding, “I’ll admit Biden won the election, but did he do it legitimately?” Or was this outside of the electoral laws enacted by legislatures in certain states? I resist and say no.”
Warner said he would like to see a “review” of the 2020 election as it is being conducted in the military to reassure citizens and improve voting.
Trump and others have criticized the expansion of mail-in voting in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is one no proof of any widespread scam And several reviews in the Battlefield States where trump denied his loss have confirmed the results. The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol found that Trump advisers and administration officials repeatedly refuted allegations of fraud in the weeks following the 2020 election, but Trump pushed the lies further, Despite it.
In a recently settled case slander against Fox News, a Delaware Supreme Court judge ruled that it did “CRYSTAL CLEAR” that none of the claims repeatedly aired on the network about Dominion Voting Systems machines manipulating anti-Trump votes were true.
Christopher McKnight Nichols, a history professor at Ohio State University, said it confuses voters when secretaries of state claim the elections they are conducting are fair, but then ask questions about elections elsewhere or point to problems without any evidence.
An earlier Republican era “would have been absolutely disgruntled, embarrassed, and perhaps ousted from other Republicans who so radically overturned or encouraged lies,” he said. “Her trademark was the principled and consistent politician.”
In Ohio, LaRose spent years reassuring the public that voter fraud accounts for a tiny fraction of the ballots cast in Ohio and that the election results were so nearly perfect. Then, during his re-election campaign last year, he said Trump was “right when he says voter fraud is a serious problem,” and accused the mainstream media of “trying to minimize voter fraud to fit their narrative.”
In October he has joined a national Republican trend by opening a unit Investigating electoral law violations in Ohio, among other tasks. He said that day Ohio has a “strong national reputation for safe, accurate and accessible elections” — but added that anything less than “absolute confidence” in the integrity of the elections “weakens the very foundation of our democracy.”