Report: State Legislatures Have Become a Linchpin of Trump’s Attack on Free and Fair Elections


In the nine states where the 2020 presidential election results were closest, at least 357 sitting GOP legislators—44% of the Republican lawmakers in those states—“have used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election” on behalf of Donald Trumpaccording to the New York Times. The findings, which led the Sunday paper, illustrate the extent to which today’s Republican party has embraced Trump’s election lies—and sound the alarm on the threat that poses to future elections. 

“Election and democracy experts say they see the rise of anti-democratic impulses in statehouses as a clear, new threat to the health of American democracy,” the Times reports, noting state legislatures, with their authority over election administration, “hold a unique position in the country’s democratic apparatus.

Unwilling to accept his loss to Joe Biden, Trump continues to claim that the 2020 election results were ridden with widespread fraud, a lie debunked by his own Justice Department and numerous recounts and audits that “is now widely accepted as fact among Republican lawmakers, turning statehouses into hotbeds of conspiratorial thinking and specious legal theories,” the Times reports.

 The Republican lawmakers who took up Trump’s challenge to the 2020 election results did so in several ways, such as backing lawsuits to delay the vote count or overturn the results. According to the Times’ analysis, calling for an external review of the 2020 election results—so-called audits—was another popular tactic, embraced by 24% of the GOP state lawmakers.

Bogus partisan reviews that helped undermine the integrity of the results were conducted by inexperienced firms in PennsylvaniaWisconsin, and Arizona. Notably, none of these unwarranted “audits” served Trump’s purpose—Arizona’s investigation affirmed Biden’s win and widened his lead—but Republican leaders have used the one-sided reviews to justify “new laws that make it harder to vote and easier to insert partisanship in the vote count,” the Times reports. 

“In 2020, the plan of Trump and his allies hinged ultimately on getting state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters,” Ben Berwick, a counsel at the nonpartisan group Protect Democracy, told the paper. “If past is prologue, that same strategy is likely to be central to efforts to subvert an election in the future.”

Georgia’s GOP-controlled legislature was one of the first of dozens to target voting rights following Trump’s loss. The state’s stunning voter suppression law, which Biden called “Jim Crow 2.0,” included voter ID laws, restricted absentee balloting, and increased the Republican legislature’s power over elections. However, despite the new rules, Georgia voters have turned out in record numbers ahead of Tuesday’s primary, with the Washington Post reporting that nearly 800,000 people had cast ballots in early in-person voting last week, “more than three times the number in 2018, and higher even than in 2020, a presidential year.”

Georgia’s gubernatorial race—which Trump-endorsed former U.S. Senator David Perdue is almost certain to lose to incumbent Brian Kemp—is among several contests into which Trump has injected himself this cycle. 

The former president has made 176 endorsements in 2022, and the fate of those candidates is proving to be a testament to his hold over the party. Trump has endorsed at least 18 candidates for state legislative seats—all of them in Arizona, Michigan, and Texas—and said in an interview that “he is looking for candidates who want state legislatures to have a say in naming presidential electors,” according to the Times, “a position that could let politicians short-circuit the democratic process and override the popular vote.”



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