With less than five weeks to go, we are heading into dangerous and uncharted waters for the midterm elections.
Former President Trump’s continuous false claim, without a shred of evidence, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him was only the beginning of a nationwide effort to discredit the integrity of our elections.
Trump’s attacks spawned Republican clones in Congress and around the country who became known as “election deniers.”
A new Washington Post report found that “a majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate, and key statewide offices — 299 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election.”
These candidates have already demonstrated an unwillingness to accept the true results of an election.
Any number of election deniers may win seats that put them in position to attempt to rig the 2024 presidential election in favor of the Republican nominee.
And, any number of election deniers who lose their races next month may well follow in Trump’s footsteps and refuse to accept the results, charging without any basis that their elections were stolen.
This could create the greatest attack in our history on the legitimacy of our elections.
The fact that election deniers around the country are running for office is just part of Trump’s destructive legacy.
There are reports of actual or threatened harassment of election workers and poll watchers around the country stemming from Trump’s Big Lie.
There are reports of vigilante citizens challenging the right of registered voters to vote. NBC News recently reported on groups searching out election fraud that have reportedly been knocking on voters’ doors in at least 11 states, raising concerns among civil rights watchdogs, some elections officials, and the Justice Department.
Trump’s false claims incited violence in the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the continued threats of violence may intimidate voters from going to the polls next month.
Lately, Trump has been courting conspiracy-driven QAnon followers who believe that the former President has been “waging a secret war against a cabal of satanic cannibalistic pedophiles within Hollywood, the Democratic party, and the so-called ‘deep state’ within the United States Government.”
It remains to be seen whether Trump will incite these QAnon followers into violent action.
This all adds up to not only a direct attack on the 2022 elections, but it’s also a dry run by election deniers on rigging the 2024 presidential primaries and general election — especially if Trump, as he has indicated, decides to run.
The Justice Department recently released information on a comprehensive series of steps DOJ plans to take to protect the right to vote and the integrity of the 2022 elections. Whether DOJ will be able to devote enough resources to address what may well be major problems around the country is unknown.
Many nonprofit organizations are also working to protect the integrity of our elections next month.
The test facing the country is whether we will be able to thwart these expected attacks on our elections by election deniers.
It is not too strong to say that our democracy and the integrity of our elections are on the line.
This op-ed appeared in Wertheimer’s Political Report, a Democracy 21 newsletter that comes out each Thursday. Read this week’s newsletter here. And, subscribe for free here to receive your copy each week via email.