GOP Secretary of State contests are roiled by election skeptics

In the months following the 2020 presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was very clear.

Muhammed Kayan
Muhammed Kayan
04 April 2022 Monday 11:19
482 Reads
GOP Secretary of State contests are roiled by election skeptics

He said that elections are being run more honestly and efficiently than ever before, in response to conspiracy theories about the election. He stated in an interview months later that voter fraud is rare.

Now, fast forward to 2022. Republican secretaries face a delicate test: They must tout their accomplishments in running clean elections and not alienate GOP voters who believe fraud that was fuelled by former President Donald Trump's allies.

LaRose has changed his Twitter tone, saying that the "mainstream media is trying minimize voter fraud in order to suit their narrative" and that "President Donald Trump is correct to state voter fraud is serious."

This tweet was sent a day after LaRose discovered he had drawn not just one, but two primary challengers. Both of them have stated that they believe Trump stole the 2020 election.

Every Republican secretary of state has been challenged by at least one Republican challenger.

This raises the possibility that the nation's vote will be further politicized if candidates embrace conspiracy theories or promote the false narrative about widespread fraud without evidence win elections for offices like secretary of state. These offices play critical roles in managing elections, and are meant to be neutral.

Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary-of-state from Kentucky, has spoken out against efforts to delegitimize 2020 presidential results. He said that some of the current GOP secretaries need to have room to maneuver political so they can defeat rivals within their party who might attempt to undermine fair elections if the win.

He said, "These are the guardians of democracy." Their opponents are those who do not respect the law, evidence or the voting process. They will ignore the safeguards in the system and ignore counts. Sometimes they just make up stuff."

Trump's false claims have led to restrictive voting laws in Republican-controlled states, partisan election reviews, voting system security breaches and now a wave of candidates seeking to take over election administration at the state and local levels.

Additionally to Ohio, Republican secretaries in state in Arkansas, Georgia and Indiana are running for office. Only Paul Pate, from Iowa, is unopposed.

The GOP incumbents in Alabama, Idaho and Nevada have decided not to seek reelection, or they are term-limited, leaving open the possibility of a run for office. Edward Buchanan, Wyoming Secretary of State, has not yet announced his plans.

Democratic secretaries are running for their seats in California and Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts. Michigan. Minnesota. New Mexico. Only one Democratic challenger has been drawn to the office so far.

Secretary of state is a job that has attracted candidates who are more focused on process than politics. These races are usually low-key and overshadowed somewhat by the campaigns for governor or state attorney general.

Trump, who disputed his loss, decided to press Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn his loss. One instance was when Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and asked him to "find enough votes" to reverse Biden's win.

Raffensperger refused to bow to Trump's demands, and he has defended Georgia's election this year in a reelection campaign where he faces three primary challengers. He attempted to counter them by praising his conservative credentials, downplaying Trump's differences and appealing to primary voters with a call for non-citizen voter ban. He has also cited his efforts to include a photo identification requirement for mail ballots in a comprehensive election bill that was passed last year.

Trump attacked Raffensperger at a Georgia rally as a "lousy Secretary of State." Raffensperger stated in an interview that he is working to counter ongoing misinformation and disinformation campaigns.

Raffensperger stated, "We checked every allegation; we made sure that we did." "I stand for the truth and no one is stronger than I in respect to election integrity."

Trump has endorsed Jody Hice, U.S. Rep. Hice opposed the counting of Georgia's electoral votes for Biden, despite no evidence of widespread fraud or tampering. The 5 million votes Georgians cast for the presidency were counted 3 times, including one manually.

Hice has been leading all candidates' fundraising efforts and is part of the "America First Secretary of State Coalition," which Jim Marchant, an ex-state lawmaker, is organizing. He is running for the vacant secretary of state position in Nevada.

This group also includes Trump-endorsed candidates from Arizona and Michigan. They have advocated, among other things, for limits to mail voting.

Trump won Kansas with 56% vote. The state did not have any major problems in its 2020 elections. Scott Schwab, Kansas Secretary-of-State, is up against a Republican primary opponent.

Schwab has challenged conspiracy theories, and may have angered some GOP voters by doing so. Following a hearing where Trump supporters made false claims about 2020's election, Schwab wrote to the committee to state that the testimony "sought" to undermine confidence in county election officers, election results and long-standing systems that secure Kansas elections.

Schwab's Republican opponent Mike Brown has demanded tougher rules for drop boxes and mail ballots. He supports partisan ballot reviews, and wants ballots printed using special paper, despite any evidence of problems in Kansas' elections. He claimed that Schwab has not been vigilant in protecting elections.

Schwab dismissed the criticism and stated that he is open to Trump.

Schwab stated, "If he has concerns, you know the president's staff can call our office to say, 'Hey. We want to talk with you about 2020 election' but they won't because it's not their concern."

As they try to retain their seats, he and other incumbents tried to strike a delicate balance between messaging -- touting their state's election performance while hinting at potential problems elsewhere.

South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett defends the work of his office. He blames "disinformation and misinformation, malinformation" for the decline in voter confidence.

He said, "I can only speak about what happened in South Dakota." "I cannot speak for what happened in these states."

Monae Johnson, Barnett's challenger said that she was "answering to the call of concerned citizens to run" and criticised Barnett for supporting online voter registration and sending absentee ballot applications in the midst of the pandemic.

Ohio's LaRose's proTrump statements didn't stop John Adams, his GOP challenger from claiming he doesn't take election integrity seriously. A second primary challenger was disqualified due to paperwork errors.

Adams stated to a group Republicans gathered at a suburban Columbus sports bar that there was "no way" that Trump would lose. He also compared LaRose with Georgia Democrat Stacy Abrams because of his support for ballot access. LaRose claims Adams is relying on conspiracy theories and nonsense in his campaign, but ignores questions about whether his rhetoric has changed.

Many GOP primary voters are confused by all this. Lyle Adcock (72), a semi-retired computer sales rep who listened to Adams in the sports bar said that he had always believed in Ohio elections, but is now unsure what to believe.

He said, "It's nothing like I feel that my vote doesn't matter. But I wonder if there's any fraud."

Adcock didn't answer a question about who he supported in the race for secretary of state.


 

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