Trump and other Republicans are already casting doubt on the midterm results
Former President Donald Trump published on social media on Tuesday to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the midterm elections in the critical state of Pennsylvania. “Here we go again!” he wrote. “Fixed elections!”
Trump’s alleged evidence? An article on a right-wing newspaper site that showed no rigging. More precisely, the article without foundation raised doubts about absentee voting data, the article did not explain clearly.
In 2020, Trump and his allies made a extended efforts to discredit the results of the presidential election in advance, spending months laying the groundwork for their false post-election claims that the election was rigged. Now, in the weeks leading up to Election Day 2022, some Republicans have used similar — and similarly dishonest — rhetoric.
Trump is not the only Republican who is trying to baselessly promote doubt about the election in Pennsylvania, a state that could determine which party controls the US Senate.
After Pennsylvania Acting Chief Election Officer Leigh Chapman he told NBC News last week that it could take “days” to finish counting the votes, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who repeatedly promoted false conspiracy theories on the 2020 elections. he said on the right-wing show covered by the liberal organization Media Matters for America: “It’s an attempt to fix that.”
It’s not. It simply takes time to count the votes — especially, as Chapman noted, because the state legislature is controlled by Republicans refused pass a nonsensical bill that would allow counties to begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day morning.
But other prominent Republicans rallied. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted a link to an article about Chapman’s comments and added: “Why are only Democratic blue towns taking ‘days’ to count their votes? The rest of the country makes it on election night.”
Even with the fact that large cities that tend to lean Democratic have many more votes to count than small rural counties that lean Republican, Cruz’s claim is completely false.
Counties of all kinds across the country – including PolitiFact noticed, some Republican counties in Cruz’s home state of Texas — don’t finish counting votes on election night. In fact, it is impossible for many counties to have a final count on election night.
Even some of the Republican states in the country count absentee ballots (or, in some cases, specifically absentee ballots members of the military and overseas nationals) that arrive a few days after election day, provided they have a postmark by election day. And some states, including some Republican-led ones, give voters a few days after Election Day solve problems with their signatures or yes provide proof of identity they did not have on election day.
US election authorities do not announce winners or official vote totals on election night. Rather, the media give unofficial projections based on incomplete data.
The health challenges of the Democratic candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, were also used to cast preemptive doubt on the possible outcome.
After Trump was defeated by Joe Biden in 2020, some right-wing figures insisted that the election must have been stolen because Biden was such a bad candidate. On Fox last week, as Media Matters noticedprime-time host Tucker Carlson made a similar argument about the Pennsylvania Senate race — suggesting that people shouldn’t accept a Fetterman victory because it would be “transparently absurd” for a candidate who has struggled with public speaking and auditory processing from a stroke in May to legitimately prevail.
But there would be nothing suspicious if Fetterman won a state that Biden won by more than 80,000 votes in 2020. Fetterman led many (though not all) opinion polls – and polls have repeatedly found that voters in Pennsylvania they still view him far more favorably than they see his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The city of Detroit, like other Democratic-dominated cities with large black populations, has been the target of false conspiracy theories in 2020. Trump and others. And now a Republican running for Michigan election chief is already challenging the validity of tens of thousands of ballots in Detroit in 2022.
Less than two weeks before election day, Kristina Karamo, a 2020 election denier and the Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, submitted lawsuit asking court to “stop” the use of absentee ballots in Detroit if they are not received in person at the office and declare that only those ballots obtained through personal requests can be “validly voted” in these elections. That request would potentially mean rejecting thousands of votes already cast legally by Detroit residents – in a state whose constitution gives citizens the right request an absentee ballot by mail.
However, the lawsuit argues that Karamo, who is trailing in the public opinion polls, is baselessly rejecting the legitimacy of the defeat.
Other Republican candidates have vaguely hinted at the possibility of cheating Democrats in some way on Election Day or during the vote count.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told reporters this week that “we’ll see what happens” when it comes to accepting the results of his re-election race, the Washington Post reported, adding, “I mean, is something going to happen on Election Day? Do the Democrats have something up their sleeve?”
The Daily Beast registered that Blake Masters, a Republican Senate candidate in a tight race in Arizona, told a story at an October event about how he couldn’t prove it wasn’t true that if he beat Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly by 30,000 votes, unnamed people won not just “find 40,000” to Kelly. He told a similar story at an event in June.
There is no basis for suggesting that there could be tens of thousands of false votes in any state count. But Masters’ comment, like Karamo’s lawsuit, achieves the effect of many of Trump’s talking points on Election Day 2020: mainstream Republican voters should be distrustful of any outcome that doesn’t go their way.
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