How the movement to undermine election results is spreading in the US

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Hello, and Happy Friday,

Today I wanted to highlight four really good stories I’ve read over the last week that show how the movement to undermine confidence in election results is metastasizing.

1 Volunteers in Tarrant county, Texas, are manually reviewing more than 300,000 ballots from the state’s 2020 Republican primary election, Votebeat reported last week. There’s no evidence of fraud or that the results were inaccurate in any way, but the ballots recently became open to public inspection and the group wants to see for themselves. John Raymond, a volunteer with the group conducting the effort, Tarrant County Citizens for Election Integrity, told Votebeat the effort was just a start. “A lot of people don’t have faith in our elections, so we’re just here counting, making sure that what the secretary of state’s numbers say are right,” he said.

It’s not clear, however, what exactly the group is looking for or how they’re doing it. At the elections office, volunteers are going through the ballots, comparing them to data on their laptop and occasionally holding them up to the light (it’s not clear what they’re looking for). The elections office, which is required to comply with the group’s request for public information, has had to provide space and supervision for the process.

It’s the kind of activity that Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who assisted Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, is encouraging citizens around the US to take up (it’s unclear if the Texas group is affiliated with her effort). There’s nothing wrong or unusual about concerned citizens wanting to check the results of an election. But there’s worry that shoddy methodology and misunderstandings will produce an impression that the election was stolen. That’s essentially what happened in Arizona, where a months-long review of the 2020 race produced no evidence the election was stolen, but those overseeing the review said they had several more questions. Election officials later debunked every single claim they made.

2 Volunteers in Colorado are going door-to-door checking voter registrations to see whether people really voted in the last election, NPR reported last week. After the 2020 election, those who pushed some of the baseless conspiracy theories have encouraged this kind of door-to-door canvassing. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this on its face, but voter data is messy and it’s easy to get a false impression of what it shows. It’s also an activity that can easily slip into voter intimidation. The NPR story notes that canvassers asked one woman whom she voted for (even though all voters in the US are entitled to a secret ballot).

3 In Georgia, citizens are relying on a new provision in Georgia law that allows any Georgian to bring an unlimited number of voter challenges, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So far, more than 25,550 voter registrations have been cancelled, and 1,800 people have been removed from the rolls in some of the state’s most populous counties, according to a tally by Fair Fight, a voter advocacy group. There’s no evidence of fraud in Georgia in 2020, and critics worry that the process is flagging eligible people on the rolls.

4 Kansas is set to have a high-stakes ballot referendum on Tuesday to remove the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution. Supporters of the amendment are already objecting to the presence of absentee ballot drop boxes in Sedgwick county, home to Wichita, according to the Wichita Eagle.

Critics worry that some people could use the boxes, which are under video surveillance, to cast fake votes against the amendment. They haven’t offered specific evidence for those claims, instead pointing to the debunked film 2000 Mules, which makes outlandish claims about drop boxes. Trump and allies have railed against ballot drop boxes, even though there’s no evidence fraudulent votes were cast using them in 2020. This is the first time I’ve seen a political group point to their availability and call out the possibility of fraud before an election.

Also worth watching …

  • Amy Weirich, the Memphis prosecutor who brought charges against Pamela Moses, is in a tough re-election bid. Election day is Tuesday.

  • Local election officials in a Michigan county that was a hotbed of conspiracy theories hosted a public demonstration and test of its voting equipment. No one showed up to watch.

  • Some Democrats are concerned that the party is supporting election deniers in GOP primaries.

Yesterday newsletter subscribers received an accidental repeat of last week’s Fight to vote newsletter. We are sorry for the error.