Bipartisan coalition discusses accountability in 2022 political cycle, tracking Holocaust deniers

Over the past year, election officials at all levels of government across the country have felt like it’s “Groundhog Day,” with some people still obsessing over the 2020 election and bringing it into the mainstream. ongoing political campaigns.

But with the 2022 political cycle underway, a bipartisan coalition of current and former state and local leaders from across the United States believe it’s possible to shrug off conspiracy theories and baseless claims of voter fraud. surrounding the 2020 election by fighting misinformation and restraining Holocaust deniers. indebted.

“We feel, in many ways, that we face the same threats to our elections and our democracy as we did in 2020,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of United States Equity and the former assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, said Wednesday during a panel discussion. “We see lies and conspiracy theories, threats against election officials and the former president who continue to fan these flames. But the threat has actually evolved.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican-controlled Senate has launched an investigation into the 2020 general election and 2021 primary, with GOP leaders saying it aims to improve the electoral process. And with a term-limited Democratic governor leaving office next year, a dozen allies of former President Donald Trump who helped promote unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud are seeking Republican nominations – a trend seen across the country last year.

Arizona has spent the last year reviewing the results of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, where current President Joe Biden won by a margin of 45,000 votes. The former president also approved a bunch of election conspiracy theorists To stand for elections in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia, who were at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2020 and have ties to extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers.

“Today we think of the anti-democracy playbook as: Change the rules. Change the umpires, so you can change the outcome,” Lydgate said, describing efforts by state legislatures to pass a reform that would “interfere with our free and fair elections” and candidates running on baseless allegations of fraud.

States United Action – a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for election integrity – recently launched a online tool, called “Replace the references”, to follow 2022 candidates for the governor, attorney general and secretary of state who rejected the 2020 election results. This is part of an effort to fight misinformation and hold people accountable, Lydgate said.

“For me, the 2022 election cycle is an opportunity for voters to be very clear about who we are in our country and who we intend to be as a democracy in the future,” the secretary said. of State of Michigan, Jocelyn Benson, Democrat. “Will we be a nation where people come together and stand up for democracy, or will we be a nation that looks the other way and allows it to retreat to the vine?

So far, 36 states have elections for governor in 2022.

In January, at least 51 candidates who promoted false election claims in 2020 are running to be their state’s top leader in 24 states. Of the 30 total elections for attorney general, at least 11 Holocaust deniers are running in 10 states.

And at least 21 candidates for Secretary of State in 18 states, with 27 total elections nationwide this year.

Former U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, State Senator Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin and former UPS executive John Ventre made the list of candidates for Pennsylvania governor .

“In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state, and the secretary of state is the Commonwealth secretary who has the responsibility to oversee elections, so that’s a very concerning thing,” said group leader Al Schmidt. of reform based in Philadelphia. Committee of Seventynoted.

Schmidt, a former Republican Philadelphia County commissioner who received backlash from the former president and threats from his supporters for fighting false election claims, said the 2020 election cycle was the safest and safest. safest in the history of the Commonwealth.

He added that the confusion surrounding no-apology postal voting, which has passed with bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled legislature in 2019, was exploited to cast doubt on the electoral process. And now the efforts to repeal Law 77, which provided for universal postal voting without excuse, is in progress.

“The ability to harness the belief that many voters have of knowing the results on election night, despite counties being prohibited from even beginning to process those mail-in ballots until election morning, has created many opportunities for distrust,” Schmidt added. “I think we see the consequences of that.”

And with a rise in far-right media, such as Gateway Pundit and One America News Network, promoting false information and giving a platform to election deniers, it’s even easier for voters to get lost in the disinformation. Panelists noted that misinformation also “metastasizes into real threats and violent rhetoric targeting our elections and our election officials,” Benson added.

Last week, two Michigan candidates told their supporters to unplug voting machines if they suspected fraud and asked them to “lock and loadat polling stations on Election Day.

“It’s just one of many examples we’ve lived in,” Benson said. “It’s very real – how misinformation has become the foundation for hateful rhetoric and violent threats and potentially even violence itself in the future.”

With fierce rhetoric surrounding the election, Christine Todd Whitman, co-chair of States United Action and former Republican governor of New Jersey, said it was important for voters to know who the deniers are at the state and local levels.

“People tend to look at the federal level; they think it all happens there,” she said. ” This is not the case. For these elections, they may be federal elections, but they are managed by the states.

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