mcloudy.png
Wednesday August 17th, 2022 1:44PM

Election skeptics rise in GOP races to run state elections

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHOENIX (AP) — The Trump-endorsed state lawmaker who won the GOP nomination for Arizona secretary of state is the latest candidate to advance to the November ballot for a post overseeing state elections while denying the results of the last one.

The early success of such candidates is raising concerns about what happens if those who lack faith in elections are put in charge of running them.

State Rep. Mark Finchem easily cleared a crowded field in Tuesday’s Arizona primary. He has embraced former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and has promised to upend election administration in the politically pivotal state if elected.

“The focus of the election is going to be on restoring the rule of law. It’s that simple,” Finchem said in an interview Wednesday. “Right now, we have lawlessness.”

Finchem, who earned an early endorsement from Trump, was among those seeking to have the Legislature overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s win in Arizona. He joins Republican nominees for secretary of state in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico and the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania in supporting Trump’s false claims. In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state.

Election experts say candidates who dispute the results of a valid election in which there has been no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting systems pose a danger of interfering in future elections. They warn it could trigger chaos if they refuse to accept results they don’t like.

“They only have faith in elections when their side wins. Their definition of a secure election is only when they or their party wins,” said David Becker, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney who now leads the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research. “That is not a democracy.”

Not all such candidates this year have been successful. Most notably, Rep. Jody Hice lost his bid to oust Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the state’s primary. Raffensperger had drawn the ire of Trump after refusing the former president’s demand in a phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state.

Most of the seven incumbent Republican secretaries facing primary challengers this year have advanced to the November election. That includes Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, who on Tuesday defeated a challenger who promoted election conspiracy theories.

Only Indiana’s Holli Sullivan and South Dakota’s Steve Barnett have lost their bids to stay in office. A handful of primaries remain over the next several weeks.

Historically, races for secretary of state have been low-key contests overshadowed by campaigns for governor and state attorney general. But they have drawn enormous interest since the 2020 election, when voting systems and processes came under attack by Trump and his supporters.

Secretaries of state don’t make laws, but they work closely with local election officials in their states. Responsibilities vary, but they typically issue guidance on voting procedures to ensure uniformity, dole out funding to local election officials and coordinate with federal officials on election security.

Experts say a secretary of state who believes the 2020 election was stolen could seek changes to how elections are run. For instance, those who think mail voting is vulnerable to fraud could add new requirements for mail ballot requests, reduce access to drop boxes or eliminate lists of permanent absentee voters.

In Arizona, the secretary of state writes a manual with the force of law that lays out election rules. The manual must be based on state law and approved by the attorney general and governor, but has been the subject of controversy this year after the Republican attorney general sought to block a new version written by the Democratic secretary of state.

The 2019 version with some changes was allowed to remain in force instead of the new one, and Finchem vows to completely scrap that version.

“If they have the keys to the castle, so to speak, will they properly set rules, count votes and defend the will of the people?” said David Levine, a former election official who is now a fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

In Nevada, the Republican nominee, Jim Marchant, wants all voting equipment tossed out in favor of hand-marked and hand-counted paper ballots. He argues voting machines can’t be trusted and has told voters: “You haven’t elected anybody. The people that are in office have been selected. You haven’t had a choice.”

In Arizona, Finchem is part of a lawsuit seeking to compel election officials in the state to hand-count ballots cast in the November election. A federal judge is considering whether to dismiss it.

There is no evidence that voting machines have been manipulated. A coalition of federal and state election and cybersecurity officials called the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history” and Trump’s own attorney general has said there was no fraud that would have altered the results.

Experts say hand-counting of ballots is not only less accurate but extremely labor-intensive, potentially delaying results by weeks. They also say it’s unnecessary because voting equipment is tested before and after elections to ensure ballots are read and tallied correctly.

Besides noting election administration, Levine said there are questions about what a secretary of state who embraces conspiracy theories might do if their party’s candidate lost an election and claimed fraud.

“We need to make sure that we are putting people in these positions who put free and fair elections above partisan interest,” he said.

Finchem confirmed Wednesday that he has received a subpoena from the Justice Department seeking documents related to his activities surrounding the 2020 election. He dismissed claims that he or other candidates like him might be a danger to democracy.

“That’s hyperbolic at its best,” Finchem said. “At its worst, it’s just fear-mongering.”

Although secretaries of state are important positions, they do not have unlimited power, said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for expanded voter access.

“Even in states where the secretary of state has an enormous amount of power, a secretary of state cannot — by themselves — overturn a democratic election,” Albert said. “Even where these individuals may want to take actions to undermine the ability for voters to vote and have a ballot count, they are still limited by the law and checks and balances in place.”

___

Cassidy reported from Washington.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Election skeptics rise in GOP races to run state elections
The Trump-endorsed Arizona lawmaker who won the GOP nomination for secretary of state is the latest candidate to advance to the November ballot for a post overseeing state elections while denying the results of the last one
6:20PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Wind-whipped fire leaves Northern California hamlet in ashes
The scenic Northern California hamlet of Klamath River was home to about 200 people, a community center, a corner store and a post office
6:17PM ( 10 minutes ago )
UN fact-finding mission will probe Ukraine prison killings
The United Nations chief says he is appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings at a prison in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine that the warring nations accuse each other of carrying out
6:05PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Walker accepts debate invite, but not one that Warnock chose
Georgia Republican Herschel Walker has accepted an invitation in his U.S. Senate race to debate Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock
5:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
Open primary may save Trump's GOP targets in Washington
Two Republican members of Congress from Washington who drew interparty challenges due to their vote to impeach former President Donald Trump were leading other Republicans in the state’s top two primary
5:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senate moves to decisive vote adding Sweden, Finland to NATO
Senators are moving toward what's expected to be an overwhelming bipartisan vote ratifying NATO membership for Finland and Sweden
4:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
With Greitens out, independent is new challenge for Schmitt
Republican leaders got their wish with the defeat of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in the U.S. Senate primary
4:16PM ( 2 hours ago )
Justice Department details threats against election workers
A top official says the Justice Department has charged five people for making threats of violence against election workers amid a rising wave of harassment and intimidation tied to the 2020 presidential election
3:49PM ( 2 hours ago )
Hawaii school named for US leader muddles alumni identity
“Where you went grad,” is a common question posed in Hawaii Pidgin to find out which high school someone graduated from
3:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Pence touts Wisconsin GOP governor candidate Kleefisch
Former Vice President Mike Pence is campaigning with his pick in battleground Wisconsin’s Republican gubernatorial primary, calling Rebecca Kleefisch “a proven conservative” as she faces an opponent endorsed by Donald Trump
1:02PM ( 5 hours ago )
Takeaways: Abortion backlash in Kansas, Greitens' collapse
In one of the biggest days of this year's primary campaign season, red-state Kansas rejected a measure that would have made it easier to restrict abortion, and voters in Missouri repudiated a scandal-tarred former governor seeking a Senate seat
12:25PM ( 6 hours ago )
Lake, Robson in tight GOP primary for governor in Arizona
Arizona Republicans are deciding between a well-known former news anchor and a development attorney in the race for governor of a crucial battleground state
11:04AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Elections
Michigan GOP Rep. Meijer trails challenger after Trump vote
Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Meijer is trailing a primary challenger backed by former President Donald Trump as he and two other Republican U.S. House members who voted to impeach Trump fight to hang onto their seats
1:53AM ( 16 hours ago )
3 House Republicans who impeached Trump face tough primaries
Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Meijer is trailing a primary challenger backed by former President Donald Trump as he and two other Republican U.S. House members who voted to impeach Trump fight to hang onto their seats
1:39AM ( 16 hours ago )
Dixon wins Michigan GOP governor primary, to face Whitmer
Businesswoman and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon has won the Republican primary for Michigan governor
11:49PM ( 18 hours ago )
General Election News
Valentine to face Schmitt in Missouri Senate race
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has defeated scandal-scarred former Gov. Eric Greitens and 19 others in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate
11:15PM ( 19 hours ago )
Producer Janet Yang elected president of film academy
Producer Janet Yang has been elected the 36th president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8:38PM ( 21 hours ago )
What to watch in primaries in Arizona, Michigan, elsewhere
Primary elections are being held in six states on Tuesday
7:11PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Castellanos HR after overturned call, Phils beat Braves 3-1
Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Philadelphia Phillies took full advantage of an overturned call to beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1
3:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trade deadline recap: Soto to Padres; Phillies, Twins add
Baseball’s trade deadline day was an action-packed affair — and no one had more fun than the Padres
3:38AM ( 14 hours ago )
Strider, Rosario power Braves to 13-1 rout of Phillies
Spencer Strider struck out a career-high 13 in six-plus innings, Eddie Rosario tied a career high with five RBIs and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 13-1 for their fourth straight win
11:55PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Wind-whipped fire leaves Northern California hamlet in ashes
The scenic Northern California hamlet of Klamath River was home to about 200 people, a community center, a corner store and a post office
6:17PM ( 10 minutes ago )
UN fact-finding mission will probe Ukraine prison killings
The United Nations chief says he is appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings at a prison in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine that the warring nations accuse each other of carrying out
6:05PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Chicago-area July 4 parade attack suspect pleads not guilty
The 21-year-old man accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more in a shooting at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago has pleaded not guilty, a week after prosecutors announced he faces 117 felony counts in the attack
5:59PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Mickelson, others sue PGA Tour over LIV Golf suspensions
The dispute between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series is now in the courts
5:58PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Alex Jones concedes Sandy Hook attack was '100% real'
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he now understands he was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and he now believes it was “100% real.”
5:57PM ( 30 minutes ago )