Mark Finchim, Jim Marchant, and Christina Karamo are one election away from becoming the chief election officials in their states. They are the Republican nominees for Secretary of State in Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan respectively, and they have all denied the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Their nominations raise fears that they will not win if they do. Managing the 2024 presidential elections with integrity In their significant swing situations.
One of the things that can confuse them most is the refusal to certify the results of free and fair elections. But secretaries of state have broad influence that extends far beyond approving the vote count, and many of these candidates want to dramatically change the way future elections are conducted in those states.
In this episode of Today’s explanation – Illustrative podcast for Vox Daily News – Host Noel King talks with Zach Montellaro, a reporter covering democracy and state politics at Politico, to understand just how dangerous it is if these election-rejecting candidates win their tight races.
Below is an excerpt from the conversation, edited for length and clarity. There’s a lot more to the full podcast, so look for it Today’s explanation Wherever you get podcasts, including Apple PodcastAnd the google podcastAnd the spotifyAnd the Stitcher.
In this upcoming midterm election, 25 states will decide who is responsible for state elections. You’ve been searching for candidates for these positions who deny the results of the 2020 election – and who might win. Tell me who you’ve been following.
The four I’m watching closely are Pennsylvania, where Doug Mastriano is the state senator who’s running for governor, but can appoint the Secretary of State. in Nevada, Jim Marchant, former state representative; In Michigan, Christina Caramo; Then Arizona, where Representative Mark Fenchem is running for Secretary of State. These are the four election deniers who top the list of candidates for the election chief in their states.
Tell me about all of them.
Mark Fenchem is perhaps the most prominent of the four. He really rose to fame in the state and elsewhere shortly after the 2020 election, hosting allies of then-President Donald Trump—right after the election for this “hearing,” spreading conspiracy theories about the election in an attempt to create disinformation about the election— It hasn’t stopped since.
Karamo is running in Michigan after being a poll observer for the 2020 election, mainly people watching the proceedings. And she claimed she saw some wrongdoing there, and she never backed it up, kind of got off there. She’s the GOP nominee, and she won the nomination by convention, not through a primary there, so she didn’t have all the ordinary residents voting for her to submit the nomination. I have published some neighboring conspiracy theories and conspiracy theories, both with and without elections. And there competing against the Democratic candidate, perhaps one of the closest states. Jocelyn Benson, there, the Democratic Secretary of State.
Jim Marchant is the self-proclaimed leader of all of these candidates. He brought them together in an alliance that he called “The US Secretary of State’s First Coalition”. They can kind of brainstorm, in theory fundraise for each other, although neither of them are really strong fundraisers. Marchant has tried to get them all together and give them a common platform and give them a common example of running. Ironically, of those four people we talked about, he’s the only one not endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
All of these people secured the Republican nomination. But can they really win the general election?
There is not a lot of interest in these races so it really gives any one of them a real chance of winning. Of course, this year we’ve seen a lot of interest in these races, and none of these guys have been good fundraisers. Money isn’t everything in politics, but it helps your campaign. But just think of the states they run. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada have seen some of the closest elections over the past decade. It probably won’t change this year. You know, could Mark Finchim, Cristina Caramo win, and could Jim Marchant win? definitely. These are polling races that don’t attract much attention. So it gives candidates a much easier path to winning a nomination they wouldn’t win in a Senate race where there would be hundreds of millions of dollars likely going to some sort of race weighting.
If these “America First” candidates win in November – and they pick a cute, homey name for their group – what is their platform? What do they pledge to do?
Marchant’s group put forward six general policy ideas. The big one that they focus on is voter identity. Voter ID is something that isn’t just limited to this group of election rejecters. It is popular among the American right. It is actually popular among most Americans. Most Americans believe, in survey after survey, that there should be some level of identity, and identity laws are very, very different across the country. They are running for a certain level of identification, they will likely have a photo ID, in their case.
Another thing they’re running on, which most election officials widely think is a good idea: paper ballots. Most people vote on paper ballots, which means that when you fill out the ballot, you already have the physical paper to be counted. Most countries then sort these ballot papers by machine. [It is] It is much faster to count elections using polling tables than to do it manually. In fact, many of these candidates say we want to go back to manual ballot counting. Manual counting is likely to be less accurate than ballot scheduling, whose accuracy has been proven time and time again.
Another important thing to look for is to eliminate or severely limit the use of postal voting.
If they win, given that they are in swing states, the great unknown will be the 2024 election. What can they do in their jobs to turn the electoral process in their states in 2024?
The thing that gets the most attention, I think actually wrongly, is the certification of elections. This final check: That person who said “we won” won. This will almost certainly end in state and/or federal court. But even presuming that, saying they would not sign off on free and fair elections, is in and of itself a challenge to the basic baseline of the system.
The following things they can do vary greatly from country to country. But on a large scale, many of them can set policy. They can’t automatically change laws, but they can make things more difficult. Think [ballot] Squares that have become a point of contention. What kind of rules can they put around drop boxes? If you send a mail ballot in many states, there is a process called signature matching (a process in which states require voters to provide valid signatures on absentee/email ballots). How do they make it more difficult to approve ballot papers?
What many of these candidates also say they want to do is completely erase the state’s current voter rolls and start over. And that’s what I think is what worries me the most, at least for me. What can they do, not when everyone is watching, you know, the day after the election, what they are going to do in the two years before it?
Have you spoken to anyone who has said that if people like this win elections and start messing with the system, Americans’ confidence in the way we vote will collapse? And that can be disastrous.
Many Americans do not think about elections. They think of elections as a one-day event. The election is really, you know, a whole year. It does not take 48 hours to prepare for the primary stage. It takes a year. It does not take 72 hours to prepare for a general election. It takes the whole year.
So the challenge is how do you restore people’s trust in elections when they don’t trust them? There is no really good answer to that. A part of America that, at this point, election officials won’t have access to, will never believe we have free elections. They are wrong, but they will never believe that it is a free election. It’s a race between election officials from both parties to reach out to the rest of Americans who don’t think about elections much and say, “No, look, we have a fair system. Come and see.” The real motivation, since 2016 and especially since 2020, is transparency, transparency, transparency. “Come and see how we test the polling machines to make sure they really count what they say they will, come and ask the questions.”
In general, your state election official, the local county clerk, will be more than happy to answer your questions. It may not be true at the moment because they are too busy preparing for the general election, but election officials want you to feel good about the election. They want to answer your questions. They want you to come and watch the test. They want poll watchers to watch and see how the US elections are going. So the arms race is: Can you reach enough Americans who have a weird feeling about it but haven’t gone far? How do you reach them this year and before 2024?