Reports October 15, 2022

Election Deniers in Governor Races

Governors have key roles and responsibilities in several aspects of election administration and voting procedures.
Issue Areas
Last updated: October 15, 2022


A project of States United Action

While we think about elections as big national events, they’re run by the states. Your state’s governor is one of just a few statewide officials in charge of making sure elections are free, fair, and secure—so it really matters that they believe in counting every legal vote.   

Along with your attorney general and secretary of state, your governor sets the rules, runs the elections, supervises the counting of ballots, certifies the results, and protects those results.

The Role of Governors in Election Administration

Governors have key roles and responsibilities in several aspects of election administration and voting procedures, including: 

  • The governor can sign or veto legislation and state budgets that shape state election procedures and financial resources for administering elections. 
  • The governor can issue executive orders to improve intergovernmental coordination on election issues or address emergency situations impacting elections. 
  • The governor can be a part of litigation impacting a state’s election and voting laws or redistricting process. 

Examples of pro-democracy actions a governor can take: sign legislation that expands or preserves the freedom to vote; veto legislation that undermines the right to vote or facilitates election subversion; draw fair district maps as part of the state’s redistricting process; propose state budgets that invest in election infrastructure and administration; appoint state officials who will advance pro-democracy policies; and issue certificates to presidential electors that reflect the official winner of the state’s presidential race. 

Examples of anti-democracy actions a governor can take: veto (in full or part) state budgets that fund state election administration and enforcement; sign legislation that adds barriers to voters’ access to the ballot box; increase partisanship in election administration or audits; underfund election officials; subvert official election results; draw district maps that constitute a political gerrymander or that deprive communities of equal democratic participation; and issue certificates to presidential electors who do not represent the official winner of the state’s presidential race. 

Click for an overview of the role of attorneys general and secretaries of state in election administration. For more detailed information on statewide election administration roles and responsibilities, visit our “Guide to Statewide Offices and Election Power.” 

The Election Denier threat

In 2022, 36 states have contests for governor. As of October 15, more than half (20 of 36) of governor races currently have an Election Denier candidate on the ballot. At least 22 Election Deniers are running for Governor in 20 states.   

  • More than two-thirds (25) of the 36 primaries this year included at least one Election Denier running on a major party ticket.   
  • Election Deniers running on a major party ticket have won more than half (60 percent or 15/25) of their primary races for governor.  
    • Some of these Election Deniers won their primaries with significant vote margins: 
      • In Texas, incumbent Greg Abbott won with 66.5 percent of the vote. That’s a margin of more than 50 points over the next candidate.  
      • In Pennsylvania, where the governor selects the state’s chief election official, Doug Mastriano won with 43.55 percent of the vote. That’s a margin of more than 20 points. 
      • In New York, Lee Zeldin won with a 20-point lead, and 43.51 percent of the vote. 
    • Other Election Deniers were defeated by significant vote margins: 
      • In Ohio, Michael DeWine (the incumbent) won with 48.11 percent of the vote, a 20-point margin over the Election Denier in the race. 
      • In Idaho, Brad Little (the incumbent) won by a 20-point margin over the next candidate who was an Election Denier, with 52.8 percent of the vote. 

For more information on the Election Deniers running for Governor across the country, click here to view our dashboard.

Election Deniers Running for Governor
Alabama - Kay Ivey
Alaska - Mike Dunleavy
Alaska - Charlie Pierce
Arizona - Kari Lake
Colorado - Danielle Neuschwanger
Florida - Ron DeSantis
Iowa - Kim Reynolds
Kansas - Derek Schmidt
Maine - Paul LePage
Massachusetts - Geoff Diehl
Maryland - Dan Cox
Michigan - Donna Brandenburg
Michigan - Tudor Dixon
New Hampshire - Karyln Borysenko
New York - Lee Zeldin
Oregon - Donice Smith
Pennsylvania - Doug Mastriano
Rhode Island - Paul Rianna Jr.
Tennessee - Bill Lee
Texas - Greg Abbott
Vermont - Kevin Hoyt
Wisconsin - Tim Michels