The GOP pressures to review state elections are mixed, but sow the seeds of disbelief

While most bills are unlikely to become law, debates and hearings in the GOP-controlled state legislature have fueled the false claim that widespread fraud has cost Trump’s re-election in 2020.

The proposals come after flawed Republican-ordered reviews in Arizona and Wisconsin where GOP lawmakers tasked biased actors with testing previous selections.

Similar efforts are being made by Republicans in the battlefield states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Biden has won.

More than a dozen bills have been introduced in seven more states this year that have offered similar reviews of the election and election results, with Trump winning in states such as Florida, Missouri and Tennessee, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which follows such efforts. It comes after legislation was introduced in eight states last year to review the 2020 results, and 12 states are considering bills to carry out a new review process for future elections.

“It’s not really clear to me that there could be a realistic, legitimate audit that would satisfy some people who are calling for it,” said Mark Spitzer, a Wisconsin state representative, a Democrat and a member of the House Select Committee. “If I thought we could do some extra checks that would give voters more confidence, we would do it.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states have already conducted some type of post-election audit or other steps to verify the accuracy of the number of votes – as outlined in state law or administrative procedures. The six states of Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Dakota have no need.

These states probably have some sort of campaigning process where election officials certify the results, but there are no tests on voting equipment, says Jennifer Morrell, a former election clerk in Colorado and Utah who now advises state and local election officials.

Bills calling for a party election review have had little success, partly because of Republican lawmakers who have criticized the 2020 conspiracy theory and defended their state election.

In South Dakota, the Republican-controlled House passed a resolution last month requiring an in-depth review of ballot and voting equipment in the upcoming presidential election. Several House Republicans attended a conference hosted by Mipello’s chief executive, Mike Lindell, in Sioux Falls last year during which he tried to prove that voting equipment had been hacked, and lawmakers echoed those claims during the debate.

The bill was later rejected by Republicans in the state Senate who noted that it was motivated by baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was the subject of widespread fraud. Trump has won a landslide victory in the state.

Republican Sen. Lee Schweinbeck said, “Uncertainty comes because we have these extremists across America who can get a forum through social media, and they are only raising questions to create uncertainty about our election.” “Regularly, ordinary people do not have this fear at all. They trust the little old lady you see when you first go to the polls. “

In Virginia, Democrats have defeated a Republican measure that controls the state Senate that would require a “forensic audit” of the election if certain elected officials or election officials request one, or if a group of residents apply for one. It will also begin reviewing Virginia’s 2020 general election.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, a prominent proponent of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election who attended a rally in Washington, D.C., before the Capitol uprising. Chase said during a controversial committee hearing that he had tried to vote and that he had filed the ballot after hearing concerns that a ballot had been given in their name.

Members of the public were given a chance to weigh in, and several speakers in favor of the bill attacked Democrats on the committee.

“I consider it a betrayal not to support this bill,” said one woman. Another warned the committee that there would be “eternal consequences” for “your soul” if they did not “legislate fairly”.

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Sen. Adam Ebin, said he was outraged by the statement.

“We are doing our job and we are trying to evaluate each bill fairly,” he said. Ebin also told Republican sponsors of the bill that “when government officials sow the seeds of distrust in the election” it raises unfounded concerns about the wider problem.

The measure was defeated by a party-line vote, with every Republican on the committee voting in favor.

In Arizona, behind the flawed electoral review of that state, Republicans introduced a bill requiring a full review after each election. The measure became a hurdle earlier this month when two Republicans voted against it. It lacked a majority support, although it could revive in the coming months.

In Pennsylvania, where Senate Republicans are conducting a biased investigation into Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, Republicans are pushing for legislation to expand the state’s post-election review. One bill was vetoed last summer by Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, the other is pending in the Republican-controlled legislature.

While some states are pushing for Arizona-style reviews to be implemented, others are moving in the other direction.

In Maine, a pending Democratic bill would protect ballots and voting machines from tampering, as well as protect ballots from bias. A similar bill is paving the way for Colorado’s democratically-regulated legislature.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Belos, a Democrat, said the bill would “protect against electoral fraud and help prevent problems in other states, such as Arizona, where ballot and equipment integrity have been compromised.”

Colorado Democratic Secretary of State Jenna Griswold issued a rule last summer banning third-party reviews of Arizona-style “sham.” After each election, the Secretary of State conducts its own risk-limited audit, a rigorous type of audit that relies on statistical methods to verify results.

Although steps have been taken to improve the official, post-election audit, that work has largely gone unnoticed, said Gauri Ramachandran, senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.

“Unfortunately, it has been overwhelmed by some of these negative laws,” he said.


Christina A. Cassidy, an Associated Press writer in Atlanta, and AP State House reporters from around the country contributed to this report.

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