“My fear is they’re going to try that in this election right here,” he said.
Never mind that the results had not yet come in at the time Elder promoted this website, or that he was a long shot to begin with. The last Republican to win statewide high office in California was Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, when he ran successfully for re-election after winning the 2003 recall vote against the Democrat Gray Davis. Newsom, a Democrat, won his 2018 race for governor by nearly 24 points. Elder was not doomed to lose, but the idea that the election was rigged — that he was robbed of victory by mass cheating and fraud — was ridiculous. But again, the point of voter fraud accusations isn’t to describe reality; the point is to express a belief, in this case, the belief that Newsom and his supporters are illegitimate.
There are other candidates running for office making similar claims. Adam Laxalt, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race, has promised to “file lawsuits early” in order to “tighten up the election.” Laxalt co-chaired Trump’s 2020 campaign in the state and supported the effort to overturn the results. “There’s no question that, unfortunately, a lot of the lawsuits and a lot of the attention spent on Election Day operations just came too late,” he said in a recent interview.
Trump endorsed Laxalt this summer, praising his commitment to the voter fraud narrative. “He fought valiantly against the Election Fraud, which took place in Nevada,” said Trump in a statement. “He is strong on Secure Borders and defending America against the Radical Left. Adam has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
This isn’t just rhetoric, either. The ideological belief in voter fraud is driving actual efforts to delegitimize Democratic Party victories and tilt the electoral playing field in favor of Republican candidates. In Florida, for instance, a member of the state House of Representatives introduced a draft bill that would require an Arizona-style election audit in the state’s largest (and most heavily Democratic) counties.
In Georgia, a Trump-backed candidate for secretary of state, Jody Hice, is running on a promise to do what the incumbent Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t: subvert the election for Trump’s benefit should the former president make another bid for the White House. “If elected, I will instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud,” Hice said in a statement announcing his candidacy in March. As a congressman, he voted against certifying the 2020 election in January and, the following month, told a group of conservative activists, “What happened this past election was solely because of a horrible secretary of state and horrible decisions that he made.”