Election Deniers Had Another Good Night in Nevada
This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up HereGet stories such as this delivered to your email inbox
Nevada Republicans voted on Tuesday to nominate an election denialist as the state’s top elections official, an outcome that would be worrisome even if it were an isolated incident.
This is false.
Jim Marchant beat out six other Republicans candidates vying to be the party’s nominee for Nevada secretary of state. In the good ol’ days, most voters couldn’t describe the duties of a secretary of state, let alone name the person in the job. This was an enviable technocrat, who ensured that businesses were properly registered and maintained state archives. Notaries public also had to be current. But after a sitting president urged some secretaries of state to set aside election results for political expediency, the public, and supporters of former President Donald Trump in particular, began to better understand the role’s power. And in Marchant, Nevadans have picked an adherent to Trump’s Big Lie and a figure who, if elected in November, has pledged to do everything in his power to wield his office’s authority for political ends.
This choice is undoubtedly troubling on its own. It fits in with the larger trend of Republicans supporting election deniers and prominent positions this year. In fact, it’s almost impossible to win a GOP nomination these days unless one caters to these fanciful ideas that Trump actually won the 2020 election and should win 2024 regardless of the vote outcome. Sure, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, fended off a Trump-backed challenger last month who focused on Raffensperger’s refusal to fudge the 2020 results, but Republicans in Pennsylvania still picked an election denier as their nominee for governor as did voters in North Carolina in the GOP primary for a Senate seat. And down the coast in South Carolina on Tuesday, Republicans backed the challenger Trump endorsed for a House seat who pledged fealty to Trump’s false claims of election fraud over the incumbent.
This means that truth is now a liability during Republican primaries, where election deniers fuel a grassroots movement party leaders believe merits nurturing.
Catering to this grievance is a short-term solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. No significant fraud was found in the review after review of 2020’s election. In fact, voters turned out at record rates, the integrity was as good as it’s ever been, and the expanded early-voting systems put in place because of Covid-19 actually strengthened American democracy. Still, confidence in the results are at garbage levels, in part the result of Trump’s unrelenting campaign against the very election he lost. In fact, the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol—the one in which Trump supporters sought to make Congress deny Joe Biden’s victory through mob rule—found just this week that Trump’s persistent undercutting of voting procedures ahead of the election helped set the stage for his later questioning the legitimacy of the outcome.
It is risky for the entire system. There’s a very good chance that Republicans will soon take back control of the House, if not the Senate. They’ve spent the last two years jeering election results that put Biden in power and swept Trump from it. When Republicans are ushered back into a majority and demand the whole country heed voters’ will, they won’t much appreciate even the faintest of hints that they are illegitimate rulers. Still, that’s the environment they have hatched, and they may have to live with.
The fever doesn’t look to be breaking any time soon. There are many primaries that election denialists will participate in, if you take a look at the calendar. In fact, almost every race in Colorado’s June 28 Republican primary features at least one denialist. An upstart candidate for Wisconsin governor has made reinstating Trump the central plank of his platform, while the establishment-favored candidate for the same job has walked back her assertion that Biden had won the state legitimately. Arizona could also have an election conspirator as its GOP nominee to be secretary of state.
Trump is leading the way with these candidates. Democrats are still at an advantage. Of the 47 states with a secretary of state, Republicans have 27 of the posts, meaning they could—in the absence of decency or shame—put their thumb on the electoral scales. Raffensperger, among others, refused to give Trump any of his 2020 requests. As Trump continues to wage war on these positions and works to install his loyalists ahead of a potential 2024 run, election denialists in all corners of government undercut the legitimacy of the very institutions they’re trying to lead. All voters need to remember that even backwater bureaucrats are being considered.
Washington: Make sense of the important things Register for D.C. Brief Newsletter.
Read More From Time