Almost two years after an angry mob descended on the U.S. Capitol in the wake of the election defeat of Donald Trump, thousands of Americans remain deep in denial.
Their refusal to accept that the 2020 presidential election wasn’t “rigged” remains a danger to our democracy. Now these election deniers are compounding that threat by exerting their “Stop the Steal” energy and obsession on heated midterm races across the country.
To keep their election fraud fantasies in play, right-wing activists have been working in full force to throw out masses of voter registrations and ballots in mostly urban, Democratic-leaning areas in Georgia, Texas and Michigan, Illinois’ neighbor.
Those issuing the challenges said they are worried about election fraud and just want to make sure the voter rolls are accurate. Right. If there’s a scam afoot, it’s thegoodwill and concern these groups claim in the guise of “election integrity.”
Here’s the truth of the matter: Time after time, in dozens of cases, judges threw out court challenges making bogus claims of fraud regarding the 2020 presidential contest. There simply was no massive fraud that “rigged” the election in favor of Joe Biden, yet the ‘Big Lie’ about that nonexistent fraud is still gumming up the works of our electoral process.
Republican activists have been receiving funding and tips on how to supposedly “vet” voter rolls by well-funded organizations with ties to Trump, including the Conservative Partnership Institute and The America Project, the New York Times reported this week. Additionally, in private Zoom chats and calls, participants are told that flooding election officials with challenges can help the candidates they back.
The aim is to burn out already overworked election officials with the bogus claims.
The very real fear of many voting rights activists is that eligible voters could be accidentally taken off the rolls, as workers sift through the mountains of claims.
Most of the challenges questioning the eligibility of voters have been rejected because the paperwork was not filed correctly or contained misinformation, according to the Times.
But if the culprits continue to insist on wasting time and resources, trust in the electoral process can erode over time.
The seeds of doubt, once planted, can easily sprout. They fuel the fire of fellow fact-averse election deniers. Worse, this shameful game plan risks sowing disillusionment in responsible voters, who may well feel disheartened or upset — and rightly so — if a mistake is made and they are taken off the voting rolls.
The latest ploy is simply an extension of the series of GOP-backed laws that have made it harder for voters — especially voters of color, in many cases — to cast ballots; for instance, by eliminating drop boxes for absentee ballots or cutting Sunday voting hours.
To date, there have been 65,000 voter registration challenges across eight counties in Georgia, with claims that the addresses were wrong.
In Texas, the eligibility of more than 6,000 voters in Harris County, where Houston is located, has been questioned.
And right next door in Michigan, 22,000 absentee ballots requests for the August primary were challenged.
More can be expected.
Errors do exist on voter rolls. There are state and federal systems in place which election officials rely on, to ensure that voters who have died or moved away are no longer listed.
Let the trained election officials do their jobs, without the so-called “assistance” of those who refuse to accept reality.
“They can’t get over the fact they lost,” as Chris Thomas, a consultant for Detroit and former elections director for Michigan, told the New York Times.
“They are just going to beat the system into the ground.”
Let’s hope election officials can fight back effectively against the sour grapes.
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