Election conspiracy theorists and adherents of Trump’s Big Lie are running in races across the country this midterms cycle for high profile, state-level positions that will give them the authority to carry the torch of 2020-esque MAGA election challenges into the future.
In April, we compiled a list of election deniers, some of whom were hand-selected by Trump, who were running to head up elections in some key battleground states. All but two of them won their primaries and will face off against Democratic challengers next month. If they win their bids for secretaries of state, they’ll have substantial control over their states’ handling of everything from election administration to electors in the 2024 presidential election and beyond — a dream come true for Donald Trump who is hardly trying to hide his intention to run for president again in two years.
While the state-level races are obviously getting the most media attention ahead of next month’s election, a new Associated Press piece published today directs our attention to the impact Trump’s Big Lie is having on election-related jobs far down ballot. The piece focuses mostly on a local race for auditor of Mason County, Washington, the elected position that oversees election administration in the largely rural county of 65,000. The incumbent is a Democrat named Paddy McGuire who has served in the role since 2018, but who previously served as Oregon’s deputy secretary of state. He has quite the resume:
He helped the state become the first in the nation to send every voter a ballot in the mail. He later went to Washington to help run the Pentagon’s mail voting program for military personnel stationed overseas.
His challenger is a retired Boeing worker and Republican named Steve Duenkel who has built his campaign on the back of 2020 election denialism and talking about the riskiness of mail-in-voting. He also think’s there’s no way to know who wins the auditor race next month unless a full audit of the results is conducted.
The piece is grim and worth the read, but this statistic that the AP cites is rather chilling:
Election conspiracy theorists such as Duenkel are running for Congress, governor and secretary of state positions that oversee elections in state after state around the country. But an unknown number also are running for one of the 10,000 positions nationwide that administer local elections and oversee the people who actually hand out ballots, tally votes and report results.
There are as many as 1,700 elections this year for those offices, or for positions which then appoint election administrators, according to Democratic strategist Amanda Litman, whose organization is targeting those races. That creates a dizzying patchwork of places where election conspiracy theorists can penetrate the country’s voting system.
While it is not known how many of the 1,700 races for these positions include conspiracy theorist candidates running to oversee local elections, the volume of electoral administration positions being decided during a time when its en vogue to build entire campaigns on promises to undermine democracy is concerning. And the tone from the top doesn’t leave much room for optimism.
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