The election deniers on the ballot: What you need to know

If we don’t stop them from taking over the election process, we can kiss what’s left of our democracy goodbye.

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Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans allies who tried to overturn the 2020 election results are now just one step away from taking control of the election process itself.

BUT we can stop them if we turn out in full force for November’s midterms.

If we don’t stop them from taking over the election process, we can kiss what’s left of our democracy goodbye.

This fall, 60% of voters will have an election denier on their ballot, including key battleground states that decided the 2020 election and will be pivotal in 2024. Many are running for positions like secretary of state, where they’ll have power to determine which votes get counted in future elections — and which don’t.

In 37 states, secretaries of state are the chief elections officers — overseeing things like election infrastructure and voter registration. In 2020, they were the last line of defense for our fragile democracy, upholding Joe Biden’s win despite heavy pressure  from proponents of Trump’s Big Lie.

But now, Big Lie proponents are vying to hold this key position in important swing states.

In Michigan, the GOP candidate for Secretary of State is Kristina Karamo  — who rose to prominence in conservative circles after claiming to have witnessed election fraud as a pollster. She’s also previously claimed that Trump won the 2020 election and that Antifa was behind the January 6th insurrection.  

In Arizona, Mark Finchem, a QAnon-supporting member of the Oath Keepers militia who participated in the January 6 insurrection cruised to victory in the GOP primary by claiming that “Donald Trump won.”

In Nevada, Jim Marchant won his Republican primary by making Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud a cornerstone of his campaign. He also falsely claims that mail-in voting is rife with fraud and wants to eliminate it altogether in Nevada, despite the fact that he himself has voted by mail MULTIPLE times over the years.

We simply cannot have MAGA election deniers overseeing any element of our elections.

But it’s not just secretaries of state who will be able to pull trickery in future elections. Governors also play a critical role in certifying votes and upholding the will of the people. Which is precisely why Trump and Steve Bannon have had their eyes on running election deniers in these races.

In Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano — who was also at the Capitol on January 6th and has been subpoenaed by Congress for his involvement in the insurrectionhelped lead the push to overturn the state’s 2020 results. If he wins, Mastriano would appoint Pennsylvania’s top election official.

In Arizona, GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake has said she does not recognize Joe Biden as the nation’s legitimate president — adding that she would not have certified Arizona’s 2020 election results had she been governor.

In Wisconsin, Tim Michels is the Trump backed candidate for governor who still questions the results of 2020 and won’t say whether he would certify the 2024 presidential election. Right now, elections in Wisconsin are administered by the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission. But if Michels wins, he supports scrapping the commission in favor of a plan that could tilt oversight of the state’s elections into the hands of Wisconsin Republicans.

These extremist gubernatorial candidates also support abortion bans, openly denegrate the LGBTQ community, oppose common sense gun-control measures, and want to chip away at the rights of workers.

Ultimately, if any of these candidates wins their election this fall — governors or secretaries of state —  that could be enough to tip the balance in a tight presidential election.

So how can we fight back?

First, spread the word about the GOP’s extremist plans to capture the election process and entrench minority rule. Make sure your friends and family — especially young voters — know what’s at stake in the midterms this fall. It will mean a lot coming from you. Make sure they register AND vote down the entire ballot.

Next, get involved locally. Volunteer to be a poll worker or join a campaign for a candidate running to protect democracy where you live. From school boards to secretaries of state, every position matters.

And of course, vote! Check your registration early and make a plan to cast your ballot.

The future of our country and our basic rights hang in the balance. All progress rests on maintaining our democracy. Let’s get to work.

Read the story on Robert Reich’s blog.

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Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

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