Heading into August Primaries, New States United Action Data Shows States at Risk of Election Deniers Holding Offices with Power Over Elections

“Replacing the Refs” Tracker Indicates Five States Have Election Deniers Running for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State including Four States with Primaries or Nomination Conventions in August; New Findings Indicate Election Denier Trend Continues Heading into General Election

Published: 7.29.22

Washington, D.C. Ahead of August primaries happening in 15 states, States United Action today released updated data on Election Denier candidates running for statewide offices with election oversight roles. This update includes both a look ahead at the Election Denier landscape for the remaining primaries and the general election, as well as analysis on primary voter participation thus far in 2022. 

Replacing the Refs tracks the trend of candidates who deny the results of the 2020 election running for governor, secretary of state, and attorney generalthe statewide offices that run, oversee, and protect our elections

The updated report finds that, as of July 28, more than half (60 percent) of secretary of state races include an Election Denier. In addition, more than one third (40 percent) of governor and attorney general races currently have an Election Denier candidate on the ballot. 

Five states have Election Deniers in the running for all three statewide positions – and four of these states (Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin) have primaries or nomination conventions in the next two weeks.

August will be a critical period for understanding how the Election Denier landscape continues into the general election. With some important exceptions, incumbents who refused to embrace election lies have fended off Election Denier candidates so far. However, in the 22 states that have already chosen general election candidates for statewide office, Election Deniers are moving on to the November election in at least one in four races.  

“Election Deniers aren’t sweeping these races, but they’re running and winning primaries in critical states for positions that oversee our elections,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action and former Chief Deputy Attorney General for Massachusetts. “As we head into August, four states have primaries where Election Deniers are running for all three statewide roles that oversee our elections and defend the results. The time for voters to pay attention is right now.”

Replacing the Refs has identified the following Election Denier landscape as of July 28, 2022: 

  • At least 26 Election Deniers are running for Governor in 15 states.
  • At least 15 Election Deniers are running for Attorney General in 12 states.
  • At least 20 Election Deniers are running for Secretary of State in 16 states.

The trend of Election Deniers vying for the power to oversee elections is happening at the same time that state legislatures across the country are introducing and passing bills that interfere with nonpartisan administration of elections. As of May, legislatures in 33 states were considering 229 bills to politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections, according to the Democracy Crisis in the Making report, a joint project of the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward. At least 50 such bills have been enacted or adopted since the 2021 state legislative cycle.



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. To learn more, visit www.statesuniteddemocracy.org/states-united-action.