Election Deniers Are Running To Control Voting In More Than Half of U.S. States

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 03: Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake holds up a sledgehammer as she speaks to supporters that are waiting around as ballots continue to be counted during her primary el... SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 03: Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake holds up a sledgehammer as she speaks to supporters that are waiting around as ballots continue to be counted during her primary election night gathering at the Double Tree Hotel on August 03, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kari Lake is in a tight race with challenger Karrin Taylor Robson to be the Republican nominee for Arizona Governor. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Election deniers are running to oversee the election process in 27 states, according to a new report out the morning after the final primary elections of 2022.

At least 43 candidates running for governor, attorney general and secretary of state across the country have promoted former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 general election was stolen from him, the report found.

Released by the nonpartisan election monitoring group States United Action on Wednesday, the analysis was the last in an ongoing effort to track election-denying candidates throughout the primaries.

States United Action qualifies as an election denier any candidate who claimed Trump won the election, spread lies or conspiracy theories about the 2020 contest on various forms of media, called for a “forensic audit” of the election, or attempted to undermine it in other ways.

This year, 18 of the 36 gubernatorial races have an election denier on the ballot; ditto for 10 out of 30 races for attorney general and 13 out of 27 races for secretary of state.

“Campaigning on lies and conspiracy theories, Election Deniers are now seeking these positions across the country in a coordinated attack on the freedom to vote,” the report’s authors wrote. “The stakes for democracy are as high as they were on January 6, 2021.”

This cohort could have a seismic impact in Arizona and Michigan — two swing states in which election deniers are running for all three jobs.

Arizona in particular has become “ground zero for the threat to American democracy,” Larry J. Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, told the Washington Post. Election deniers advanced to the general election there in early August.

The candidates include Mark Finchem, a secretary of state candidate and far-right lawmaker who was present at the siege on the Capitol complex; Kari Lake, a former news anchor and staunch Trump supporter who said that if she lost the primary race for governor then “there’s some cheating going on”; and Abraham Hamadeh, the attorney general candidate who has boosted false claims of voter fraud and described Republicans who supported certifying the 2020 results as “weak-kneed.”

The Michigan GOP recently nominated two election deniers for state office: Kristina Karamo, who claimed that Trump won in Michigan, for secretary of state and Matthew DePerno, who challenged 2020 election results in court, for state attorney general. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon has also expressed doubt about the election results.

An election denier winning just one of these races could throw the democratic process into chaos for the foreseeable future, the report warns.

“Half the country has an Election Denier running to oversee their elections — and if a single Election Denier wins, that’s a five-alarm fire for our democracy,” Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States United Action, told TPM. “It’s critical that voters know what’s at stake right now.”

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