Election-deniers are poised to win key posts in swing states. They must not

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)
Doug Mastriano, speaks at an event on July 1, 2022, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

With primary elections swirling all over the country, it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening where. But a recent Washington Post analysis clarifies a troubling pattern: In most of the half-dozen battleground states that will matter most in the 2024 presidential election, the GOP has nominated Trumpian election-deniers to posts that have power over election results.

This, more than mayhem in the streets, is how American democracy could fall.

There isn’t and never was any validity to former President Donald Trump’s continuing claim that he won reelection in 2020 but was robbed of that victory by voter fraud. He lost what may well have been the cleanest, most closely monitored and diligently reviewed election in U.S. history, and he lost by a significant margin. But, like the aspiring autocrat he is, Trump attempted to remain in power anyway — an unprecedented violation of oath for an American president.

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What prevented Trump’s post-election coup attempt was largely the responsible resistance of state-level Republican election officials to Trump’s demands that they show loyalty to him instead of to democracy. There’s no better encapsulation of Trump’s corrupt quest than his demand to Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, that he “find 11,780 votes” to put Trump over the top there. And there’s no better example of patriotism than Raffensperger’s steadfast refusal.

Thankfully, Georgia Republican voters this year apparently recognized that courage and nominated Raffensperger to another term. Ditto with Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who, whatever his other deficits, responsibly rejected Trump’s election lies. Kemp and Raffensperger are the two state officials with the most control over Georgia elections, meaning that swing state may again be safe from a Trumpian undermining of democracy in two years.

But in other swing states — including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Trump-backed election deniers have been nominated this year into key positions with influence over election outcomes.

Among them are Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, a state lawmaker who in 2020 tried to block President Joe Biden’s victory there and who mused in a recent interview that, as governor, he could “decertify every (voting) machine in the state with the stroke of a pen.” Michigan’s GOP nominee for secretary of state, Kristina Karamo, tried to block Biden’s win there by testifying that she personally saw rampant vote fraud, while offering no evidence. In Arizona, Republican nominees Kari Lake, for governor, and Mark Finchem, for secretary of state, have both said they wouldn’t have certified Biden’s victory there.

Had this gang of electoral saboteurs been in office in 2020, America might well have been plunged into a constitutional crisis. This election season, there is no more urgent imperative — none — than ensuring that they and other politicians who side with Trump’s lies and against democracy are kept away from the levers of power.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).