If Trump Loses, Expect Big Liars To Blame Voter Roll Maintenance For Fraud In The Fall

An election worker processes voter information in the Flagging Room at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) ahead of the 2024 Arizona Primary and General elections in Phoenix, Arizona on June 3,... An election worker processes voter information in the Flagging Room at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) ahead of the 2024 Arizona Primary and General elections in Phoenix, Arizona on June 3, 2024. Maricopa County election workers have repeatedly been the target of harassment and threats since the 2020 US election due to the spread of online misinformation about voter fraud. Officials are preparing for another onslaught of conspiracy theories in the 2024 presidential race by bulking up security and giving public tours at their ballot tabulation facility in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Republicans are mounting legal challenges against voter roll maintenance practices in various states across the country — public actions that do little but perpetuate lies about the accuracy of voter rolls as Republicans and election deniers set themselves up to cry voter fraud if things don’t go their way in November. 

Earlier this month, the right-wing legal group, United Sovereign Americans, filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, challenging the state’s voter registration rolls. The lawsuit alleges that the state had voting system errors in the 2022 election and that there were a number of errors in the voting registration rolls during that same election, which they claim violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).  

Just last week, a federal judge dismissed a similar case filed by the Republican National Committee in Nevada, which alleged inconsistencies with the state’s voter rolls in violation of the NVRA. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to file the lawsuit.

Arizona Republicans filed a lawsuit this month against their secretary of state, challenging the state’s voter roll maintenance practices. And the RNC filed a similar lawsuit in Michigan in March of this year, again arguing that in violation of the NVRA, the state is not maintaining accurate voter rolls. 

“The ultimate goal of these lawsuits is to lay the foundation for later claims that the election results can’t be trusted because the voter registration rolls can’t be trusted,” director of voting advocacy and partnerships at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center Jonathan Diaz told TPM. “And it’s all about creating this atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty.”

These lawsuits, which appear to merely bring attention to a problem that does not exist, are a tool to help election deniers sow distrust in a safe and secure system ahead of the 2024 election, experts told TPM. And the allegations about voter roll maintenance practices are similar to the false claims about the safety and validity of mail-in ballots in 2020 — myths similarly deployed as election denial fodder four years ago.

There was no factual predicate for claiming that mail in ballots were a source of fraud, just as there is none here either. But whether or not there is a factual basis for these claims is not the point for those seeking to sow seeds of chaos and doubt in the election system. 

“If it weren’t for these lawsuits, it’d be something else and it probably will be something else,” Justin Levitt, a professor of law at Loyola Law School, told TPM. “The filing of litigation and continuing developments in that litigation is a relatively useful way to show action even if it’s walking on a treadmill.”

Republicans have been signaling for years now that voter rolls were going to become fertile ground for election conspiracy theories ahead of 2024, so it’s no surprise that just months before November, they are mounting more and more of these lawsuits.

Following the 2020 election, false narratives about voter rolls became a particularly mobilizing area of fixation as Republicans began circulating rumors and misinformation about the bipartisan voter roll maintenance program known as ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center. Since 2022, nine Republican-led states, motivated by conspiracy theories that originated with the right-wing website Gateway Pundit, opted to leave ERIC. Prior to this point, more than half of U.S. states — red and blue alike – participated in the program. 

The very same Republicans alleging issues with voter rolls are the ones who supported leaving a program that effectively keeps voter rolls up to date and as accurate as possible. “The behavior of some of the people complaining now about the voter rolls is inconsistent with the behavior of people who actually care about the voter rolls,” Levitt added.

There are federal laws and state laws in place that both protect voters from being erroneously removed from voter rolls and mandate that election officials maintain accurate voter rolls. These recent GOP-led lawsuits, however, argue, without evidence, that states are ignoring both federal and state protocol and are allowing ineligible voters to remain on the rolls. In doing so, Republicans are laying the foundation for a second wave of election denial in 2024. 

“It’s all coming from a larger narrative that the election system is not working,” Caren Short, director of legal and research for the nonpartisan nonprofit League of Women Voters, told TPM. 

And even though many of these lawsuits have been dismissed, the fact that they were filed in the first place and got any amount of attention just means that Republicans were still successful in spreading a false narrative about the voter rolls and more broadly, the integrity of the election.

“That is probably a win for those groups to sow distrust in our election system, even if the court case is dismissed because it’s completely baseless or they have no standing, it’s accomplishing a narrative for election deniers,” Short said.

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Notable Replies

  1. We have Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to thank for this. We had the chance to pass national voting procedure legislation, but those two… POSs.

  2. The attorneys who file such lawsuits should be on notice.

    They’ll lose their law licenses by making illegitimate claims.

    Witness Chesebro, Eastman, and Kraken Lady

    They’d best be careful.

  3. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be voting under the names of all four of my dead grandparents and both of my dogs this November. Democracy is great!

  4. For the love of all you hold dear, do NOT vote for anyone with an “(R)” next to their name.

  5. Nobody ever asks about how much money all this takes. Teams of people to go through voter rolls, and the law, or the media, or just the average never demands - who pays the people that do it?

    Where is the Liberal Heritage Foundation and all its lawyers? Crickets.

    The good in the country is being done out of noblesse oblige. The rest is in the service of money. Guess who’s winning.

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