Georgia celebrated a record first-day early voting turnout of more than 131,000 on October 17. In contrast, armed and masked vigilantes intimidated voters at ballot drop boxes in Arizona.
Georgia’s turnout represents the best of U.S. democracy. Arizona represents the dark future if election deniers and proponents of the Big Lie win.
First published in Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: MSR’s “Elections Under Attack” series examined in depth four threats to our elections growing out of the Big Lie that the former president won the 2020 election. Here the author provides a summary of these threats that Minnesota voters should keep foremost in mind when casting their ballots on November 8 or earlier and what to look for after the election.
Here’s a quick round-up of some of the ongoing attacks on elections, including recent actions by election deniers propagating the Big Lie.
The Big Lie about U.S. elections has two parts: first, that the former president actually won the election, and second, that widespread election fraud stole the election from him. “Big Lie” is a term that originated with the Nazis in Germany. The term means that if you tell a big enough lie and repeat it often enough, people will believe it.
The truth: The former president lost the election and no significant election fraud has been found anywhere. Even Republican investigators, hired by Republican legislatures, have not found fraud.
Big Lie candidates running in November
Election deniers are running for office across the country. The Washington Post analyzed the public statements of 569 Republican candidates for the House, Senate, and statewide offices More than half refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
In 1898, White Democrats in Wilmington, NC overthrew the legitimately elected government, which included some Black Republicans. Like them, many of today’s Big Liars refuse to accept any election results that do not give them victory.
Among them is Kim Crockett, who is running for Secretary of State in Minnesota. Crockett has repeatedly refused to say that she will accept the results of the election if she loses the race against Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Sabotaging the election process
Some attacks on the election process are direct. In Michigan, Macomb County officials hired an election denier to recruit and train poll workers. Genevieve Peters marched on the Capitol on January 6, and has posted many photographs of herself with Proud Boys at various marches. Now she is in charge of official election workers.
Ongoing efforts to sabotage the election process include vicious, deceptive advertising by dark money groups that hide the identities of their donors. Many outright lies in political advertising also sabotage elections. Dark money ads targeting Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, for example, even go further than the 1988 race-baiting Willie Horton ads, which were widely condemned at that time.
State officials, including governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor in Minnesota, play a crucial role in safeguarding elections. If election deniers win these positions, in Minnesota or elsewhere in the country, they are positioned to sabotage and undermine future elections.
Threats to election officials
Vigilantism by election deniers continues and will persist beyond November 8. Intimidation of election officials already threatens the electoral process.
Nevada has seen an exodus of state and county election officials since 2020. Threats and harassment drove the registrar of voters in the second-largest county out of office, fearing for her family’s safety. Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas have seen massive resignations of election officials since 2020. A Kansas election official described the actions of election deniers who became poll workers as “terrifying.”
Attacking voting rights
The biggest threats to voting rights lie ahead, in the possibility of hostile takeovers of state offices and legislatures. In Minnesota, candidate Kim Crockett questions whether people with disabilities and non-English speakers should be allowed to vote. She is apparently unaware that as far back as 1896 Minnesota ballots were printed in nine languages.
Denial of equal voting rights continues, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the forefront. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, DeSantis signed an emergency order making voting easier for three hard-hit counties with Republican majorities. At the same time, he refused requests to give the same accommodations to other hurricane-hit counties that usually vote Democratic.
The best response to attacks on our elections? Like the early voters in Georgia, you can fight back against the Big Lie and the attacks on our democracy. Get out there and vote!
If you haven’t voted yet, election day is November 8. In Minnesota, you can register at your polling place on election day. Below is the Secretary of State website with all the information you need.
For more voting information, go to www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-day-voting.