Tuesday night brought us much needed cause for celebration when Kansas voters rejected the GOP’s efforts to impose extreme religious beliefs as law in their state. But we can’t ignore that on the same day, an anti-democratic extremist won the GOP nomination for secretary of state in Arizona.
Mark Finchem, a Trump-endorsed state representative who has been described as “a prominent 2020 election denier,” captured the GOP nomination for a crucial position that administers elections in Arizona.
As of July 28, at least 20 election deniers are running for secretary of state, with many already winning the GOP nominations.
Simply calling Finchem — as well as other Republicans like him who have been nominated to key positions that would empower them to administer elections if they win in November — “election deniers” doesn’t give a true sense of the danger these people pose to our democratic republic; the more accurate description would be “democracy deniers.” Because these candidates are not just talking about the 2020 election. They are also openly laying the groundwork to undermine or even overturn future elections — unless a Republican who supports their politics wins, that is.
Let’s start with Finchem, a self-identified member of the Oath Keepers militia, an organization whose leader was charged with seditious conspiracy for his alleged role in plotting the Jan. 6 attack. In the lead-up to Tuesday’s election, Finchem continued to peddle election lies, including that the 2020 election was conducted with “software that flips votes” and that Marxists conspired to manipulate the ballots.
Of course, there is zero evidence of widespread voter fraud that in any way helped President Joe Biden win. As Finchem undoubtedly knows, Biden’s victory in Arizona was confirmed by recounts, court cases and even a failed lawsuit alleging voter fraud brought by the Arizona GOP state chair that included a trial over a series of days.
But facts don’t matter to democracy deniers. All that matters is power. It’s why Finchem played an “instrumental” part in the fake elector scheme. And it’s why he has continued to advocate for decertifying the 2020 election results — if he wins this November it puts him in a pivotal position to further those efforts. He has also championed legislation that would allow the GOP-controlled Arizona state Legislature to overturn the results of a future presidential election, allowing to instead award the presidential electors to the candidate of its choosing. This is not how democracy works; that’s how it dies.
Here’s the worst part: Finchem could win this November, and he is far from the only so-called democracy denier to have won GOP nominations in battleground states that will likely decide the 2024 presidential election. Per The Washington Post, as of June, at least 108 Republican candidates for statewide office and Congress who have embraced Trump’s 2020 election denial have won the nomination of their party and will be on the ballot this fall.
The most concerning of these candidates are the GOP nominees for secretary of state who will have the power to potentially deny the will of the people in future elections if they don’t agree with the outcome.
The most concerning of these candidates are the GOP nominees for secretary of state who will have the power to potentially deny the will of the people in future elections if they don’t agree with the outcome. The nonprofit States United Action has detailed that as of July 28, at least 20 election deniers are running for secretary of state, with many already winning the GOP nominations.
In Michigan, the GOP 2022 secretary of state nominee is Kristina Karamo, who came to fame in Republican circles after the 2020 election when she claimed, without evidence, that “thousands of ballots were dropped off for Biden in the middle of the night.” While the claim was debunked, Fox News touted her on air as a whistleblower.
Like Finchem, Karamo still claims that the 2020 election was stolen despite court rulings and a Michigan GOP-led state Senate committee report concluding there was no evidence of voter fraud that could affect the state’s election results in 2020.
Alarmingly, Karamo has claimed, again without credible evidence, that corruption in the voter registration database means thousands of illegal ballots are being generated. She appears to be laying the groundwork to claim that the 2022 election will be fraudulent if she or other Republicans lose.
In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, the governor picks the sectary of state. That’s why it’s deeply concerning that election denier Doug Mastriano is the GOP gubernatorial nominee. Mastriano was one of the leaders in peddling false claims of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania after the 2020 vote. Mastriano, who traveled to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, has vowed, if elected, to require people to re-register to vote. Constitutional law experts say this violates federal law, and it would cause chaos.
In Nevada, another crucial state, Jim Marchant, a former assemblyman with links to QAnon, won the GOP nomination for secretary of state. Marchant claims Biden didn’t win the election and if he were secretary of state in 2020, he wouldn’t have certified the results. “We haven’t elected anybody here since 2006,” Marchant told The Washington Post. “They have been installed and selected by the cabal.” He has also helped create, allegedly at the urging of people in the “Trump orbit,” the America First Secretary of State Coalition that Finchem and Karamo have joined.
Marchant has said that if elected he will get rid of electronic voting machines, voting by mail and early voting, and move to a hand-counted paper ballot system. But let’s be honest, no matter the voting system used, if Marchant doesn’t like the results, there’s little doubt he will refuse to certify an election as secretary of state.
Should these democracy deniers win, the 2024 presidential election could be rigged before the first ballot is cast. At the very least, these people could cause chaos after the election by spewing fact-free claims of election fraud and refusing to certify election results.
A democracy can’t survive when only one party believes in it. For those who seek to preserve our republic, the top priority is coming out to vote in huge numbers, just like we saw in Kansas on Tuesday to produce a result that no one is able to deny.