Bad Politics, Bad Policies

The state of the Election Denier movement in 2023.

Published: 4.28.23

Think of it as the Election Denier penalty. When voters understand the role candidates will play in our free and fair elections, they step up to defend democracy.

Election Deniers racked up loss after loss in midterm races where election powers were at stake. And it turns out voters punished these candidates specifically because they endorsed lies and conspiracy theories about our elections.

It cost candidates 2.3 to 3.7 percentage points, compared with similar candidates in similar races, according to a new report from States United Action. That was enough to flip five to seven races away from Election Deniers and to their opponents.

It’s further proof that voters don’t like lies about our elections.

But a handful of Election Deniers did win, joining others already in power. In all, 23 Election Deniers now hold election oversight positions in 17 states. And they’re using that power to chip away at nonpartisan election administration and voting security, the report found.

Election Deniers serving in statewide office are pulling out of an agreement that makes voter rolls more accurate. They’re moving to restrict election funding. And they’re creating and expanding special units to prosecute election crimes, while pushing false claims about fraud.

As for the Election Deniers who lost last year, they haven’t gone away. They’re using their platforms to seize control of state parties, raise millions of dollars, and explore future runs for office.

Bad politics, leading to bad policies: That’s the state of the Election Denier movement in 2023. It may be a loser politically, but the movement still threatens our elections, from both inside and outside the halls of power.

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State of the States

In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney said she will make an announcement between July 11 and Sept. 1 about criminal charges in her investigation into interference in the state’s 2020 election. District Attorney Fani Willis disclosed the timing in a letter to the Fulton County sheriff. She cited a need for “heightened security and preparedness” leading up to the announcement and said she wanted to give the sheriff’s office time to work with local, state, and federal agencies to protect the public. Willis is examining the attempt by former President Trump and his associates to overturn his loss to President Biden in Georgia. You can read more in States United’s full backgrounder on the investigation.

In North Carolina, the state Supreme Court reversed a prior decision in the redistricting dispute that gave rise to Moore v. Harper, a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning a radical legal theory that would give partisan state legislatures virtually unchecked power over federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court could decline to rule on the North Carolina case, although it could still take up the theory in a future case. The North Carolina court, which flipped to a conservative majority this year, reversed a decision prohibiting partisan gerrymandering.

In The News

  • The U.S. Supreme Court could decline to rule on Moore v. Harper, a case concerning a radical legal theory that would vastly expand the election powers of partisan state legislatures, after the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a prior decision in the underlying dispute.
  • Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicated she will announce this summer whether former President Donald Trump and his allies will be charged following the special grand jury investigation into his attempts to interfere in the 2020 election in Georgia.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a grand jury examining the events leading to the Capitol attack on Jan. 6. Pence’s appearance came hours after Trump lost an attempt to block him from testifying about their direct conversations.
  • Fox News agreed to hand over thousands of documents to Smartmatic, a voting machine company. Smartmatic alleges Fox defamed the company by airing false claims that it rigged the 2020 presidential election. Fox reached a $787.5 million settlement last week with Dominion, another voting machine company that sued over similar false claims.
  • President Biden launched his re-election campaign. “Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they have to defend democracy … and this is our moment,” he said in a video.