Stop the Steal Hasn’t Stopped

Why we have to stay vigilant in defense of our elections.

Published: 1.20.23

Earlier this month in Pennsylvania, about two dozen employees of Lycoming County spent three days on an election recount. They went through 59,000 ballots by hand. The final results came out almost exactly the same.

This wasn’t a recount of the 2022 midterm election. The county employees were recounting ballots from the election two years before that — the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in 2020.

As The New York Times reported, the county undertook its costly recount because of pressure from conspiracy theorists and Election Deniers. Predictably, there was no evidence of fraud. Predictably, the Election Deniers say they’re not finished.

Lycoming County offers a lesson. The midterm election last November was free, fair, safe, and (mostly) drama-free. But the Stop the Steal movement hasn’t gone away.

Votebeat has a roundup of the new tactics Election Deniers are using to create uncertainty in our elections and delay final results, including election challenges with little chance of success in Texas and recounts under “obscure provisions of state law” in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Election Denier candidates posted a dismal record last year in statewide races for election administration jobs, which should have made it clear that voters won’t stand for these tactics. Unfortunately, the Election Deniers who did win aren’t taking cues from the voters.

They won many local races, making it easier to push for recounts and document requests that tie up county officials. They also won scores of seats in state legislatures, which are starting their 2023-2024 sessions. Legislatures took up hundreds of bills in the past two years that would make it easier to undermine the will of the voters, some by introducing chaos and delays. They are showing early signs of doing the same this time around.

Especially as we look to 2024, we must stay vigilant — telling the truth about our elections, supporting pro-democracy officials, and watching what happens in states and counties.

In Lycoming County, Election Deniers are now seeking copies of ballots and digital records from voting machines, and casting doubt on the recount. As the county elections director, Forrest Lehman, told the Times: “You close one election-denying door, they’ll open a window.”

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State of the States

In Arizona, an appeals court rejected an attempt by the state Republican Party to end mail-in voting. The decision, by the Arizona Court of Appeals, affirmed a ruling by the Mohave County Superior Court, which held that Arizona’s mail-in voting system properly preserves secrecy in voting. Arizona allows any voter to return a ballot by mail for any reason, a system that was adopted with bipartisan support and signed into law by a Republican governor in 1991. Mail voting is broadly popular in Arizona: About 90 percent of the state’s voters used that option in the 2020 general election. States United represents the Arizona secretary of state’s office in the case.

In The News

  • A former Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives was arrested and described by authorities as the “mastermind” behind shootings at the homes of four Democratic officials. The suspect lost his race by 47 points but refused to concede.
  • Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and state lawmakers announced legislative plans to protect voters and election workers. The proposals would increase penalties for threatening election workers, ban deceptive practices such as lying to voters when seeking their signatures on petitions, and provide security funding for local clerks.
  • A jury in Washington began deliberations in the second seditious conspiracy trial of members of the Oath Keepers. On Jan. 6, “Our democracy was under attack, but for the defendants it was everything they trained for and a moment to celebrate,” prosecutor Louis Manzosaid in a closing argument.
  • An Arizona state lawmaker introduced a bill to outlaw early and mail-in voting and to require that all ballots be counted by hand. As state legislative sessions open across the country, States United is monitoring bills like these that would interfere with election administration and make it easier to undermine the will of the voters.
Image information: A Stop the Steal rally in Harrisburg, Pa., in November 2020.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images)