States United Action Releases First Election Denier Landscape for 2023 and 2024 Cycles

Replacing the Refs Identifies Election Deniers Running for President and Statewide Executive Office; Spotlights How Election Denial Shows Up on Campaign Trail After 2022 Midterms

Published: 9.13.23

Washington, D.C. — As election officials and voters continue to face a barrage of lies and conspiracy theories that undermine public trust in our democracy, States United Action today released a report on the state of election denial. The latest Replacing the Refs report tracks both presidential candidates and candidates running for the key statewide offices that run, oversee, and protect our elections—governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. It also includes a 50-state landscape of where Election Deniers currently have power over elections heading into the 2023 and 2024 cycles.

“Even though voters overwhelmingly rejected Election Denier candidates in 2022, the movement is alive and well and continues to undermine trust in our democracy,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action. “Presidential candidates and surrogates on the campaign trail are spreading conspiracy theories, with the support of fringe media personalities. Election Deniers in statewide office are threatening our elections from the inside. And failed Election Denier candidates are continuing to raise money off the same old lies. To fight and defeat this movement, we need to be able to see the full picture—and that’s what we’re tracking.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Three Election Deniers are currently running for president in 2024: Ron DeSantis, Larry Elder, and Donald Trump. Meanwhile, campaign surrogates are spouting election lies and abusing their platforms to amplify misinformation across the country.
  • Since 2020, at least 42 states have had an Election Denier run for at least one of the statewide offices that oversee elections (governor, attorney general, secretary of state).
  • Currently, 23 Election Deniers in 17 states serve as either governor, attorney general, or secretary of state. That means a third of the country has an Election Denier in statewide office overseeing their elections.
    • In 2022, 141 Election Deniers ran in 94 separate races for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. In 2023, only nine of these seats are up for grabs. In this off-year, 11 Election Deniers have run for the statewide offices that oversee our elections in three states: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. So far, six Election Deniers were defeated in their primary races—all in Kentucky.
    • Five Election Deniers remain on the ballot: State Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Attorney General Jeff Landry (Louisiana gubernatorial race); Brandon Trosclair and Amanda Jennings (Louisiana secretary of state race); Attorney General Lynn Fitch (Mississippi attorney general race).

“While there are fewer statewide races this year, we can’t lose sight of the big picture as we head into the presidential cycle: There is now an entire Election Denier industry that pervades our elections and continues to undermine public trust in our democracy,” said Thania Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Research and Policy Development at States United Action. “It can’t be overstated how dangerous it continues to be to have Election Deniers in the positions that oversee our elections and to have candidates and their surrogates continuing to run on this platform of lies. We know from the data and the 2022 midterms that voters don’t like election denial, so it’s imperative we keep a spotlight on this issue that is so critical to the future of our democracy.”

States United Action’s 50-State Landscape identifies where Election Deniers currently hold statewide office as governor, attorney general, or secretary of state. Many are using their powers to weaken free and fair elections: Nine states have pulled out of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a partnership that helps make sure voter rolls are accurate. Some Election Deniers have moved to restrict donations to support election funding. And others are creating or expanding special units to prosecute election crimes, including voter fraud, which is practically nonexistent.

Learn more about actions that sitting Election Deniers have taken to undermine our democracy and the role of statewide executives in our elections, and revisit States United Action’s 2022 Replacing the Refs report.


About States United Action

States United Action is a nonpartisan section 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization with a mission to protect our elections and our democracy. States United Action advocates for policies that protect election integrity, hold democracy violators accountable, and prevent political violence that threatens to undermine the will of the American people, and amplifies the voices of state leaders and law enforcement leaders who share these values.