Ah, the traditional sights and sounds of the season! Glasses clinking in toasts. Turkeys alternately making a grand entrance to the dining table or at the White House for a Presidential pardon. Yes, even families arguing about politics, while passing the stuffing around.
But now we have a new American tradition: politicians claiming voter fraud and stolen elections. Although allegations of rigged elections were noted here and there in earlier years (see: Stacey Abrams in Georgia), the tradition didn’t truly take hold until 2020. Despite ruling after ruling finding that election results were correct, and fraud was negligible, it seems that, much like life, stolen election claims find a way!
Just as with any tradition, people put a different spin on their denial. Some, like Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania or Jim Marchant in Nevada, are more traditional election deniers, spreading the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 Presidential election. Voters in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin and Michigan pulled a Regina George and said, “Stop trying to make election denial happen. It’s not going to happen.”
Other candidates find a way to make election denial their own, and nowhere is showing us how to celebrate this new tradition like Arizona. If Vermont makes us think “white Christmas,” the words “Maricopa County” conjure up images of election denial.
Arizona Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake lost her election by more than 17,000 votes. But she has called for a redo. Not a recount of the votes – a redo of the election. Lake claims her voters were disenfranchised in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is), while the county claims every voter had a chance to cast their ballot.
Like any good election denier, Kari’s doing a great job of fanning the flames, invoking battle imagery, suggesting Chinese Communist Party involvement and generally making a strong case for why Arizona voters rejected her (hint: it’s not the voting machines).
Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Gosar wants Maricopa to redo the Arizona gubernatorial election because voters waited for two hours. By the way, in 2021, Gosar became the first House member formally censured in a decade because he posted an animated video of him killing a Democratic congresswoman and assaulting President Biden. But I digress… Gosar should probably talk to whomever fixed those 10-hour voting lines in Georgia.
But Kari isn’t the only Arizona candidate who wants to protect election integrity by destroying it. Meet Republican Abe Hamadeh, candidate for Arizona attorney general. Now, the race for attorney general was actually close, decided by a margin of only 500 votes. Abe has sued over the preliminary results, claiming officials mismanaged the election, which currently show he lost to Democrat Kris Mayes. The tight race was already headed for an automatic recount, but where’s the fun(draising) in letting the process play out? It’s much smarter to claim incompetence and fraud, fueling the base’s fear that our election system is corrupt.
Hoping “to restore confidence in our elections” by undermining confidence in our elections is a remarkable strategy.
Lest you think this is just one man’s lone crusade, fear not! GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is here to reassure you: “The GOP is proud to join in this legal action,” i.e., this reckless undermining of our democracy.
Noted Neo-Nazi fave and failed Senate candidate Blake Masters is also on hand to help.
Blake has more thoughts:
(Someone should check on the Florida Democrats. Maybe they couldn’t figure out how to turn on the GOTV mail machine?)
Someone should tell Blake the story of how the Republican Party worked for, oh, about 30 years to increase vote-by-mail and had done a heck of a job, until a certain Republican POTUS started bashing it in 2020.
In all seriousness, while it’s easy to roll our eyes at these election deniers, we can’t pretend they don’t have a terrible impact. A Monmouth poll showed 61% of Republicans believe Joe Biden lost the 2020 election. That’s astounding and disturbing. You know that line from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” Consider this less festive twist: “Every time an election’s denied, a bit of democracy has died.” Probably not a quote for the ages, but you get the point. Election integrity is the foundation of democracy. When people begin chipping away at it, the whole structure becomes unstable.
But the midterms brought some good news. Arizona aside, it feels like we cleared one hurdle with the midterms, in terms of election denial. But so much remains at stake, and so much has changed already in the past two years. Things we once took for granted, like candidates accepting election results, can’t be counted upon anymore. What will we see by November 2024? We can expect certain candidates, both household names and newcomers, to continue the “stolen election” grift. Well, the grifters can expect to see us. We’ll be right here, continuing to stand up for democracy, to stand up for integrity and to stand against grifters and extremists.