RENO, Nev. – Jim Marchant has traveled the country repeating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and attempting to argue that electronic voting machines should be discarded in favor of ballots and counted by hand.
Now the businessman and former state legislature is in Nevada, a perennial presidential battleground state, in the primary on Tuesday. His goal: to become the country’s top election officer.
Marchant is one of several Republicans across the country lined up to oversee the next presidential election while denying the outcome of the last one.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud or tampering with voting machines in 2020. But the false claims have cast doubt among Republican voters, sparked death threats against poll officials, and led to a host of new voting restrictions in GOP-controlled states, mostly related to mail-in ballots.
Nevada’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, has said so repeatedly She found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Term limits prevent Cegavske from running for re-election.
Of the seven Republicans hoping to replace her, Marchant stands out for his rhetoric. He claimed during a candidates’ forum in February that elections have long been corrupted.
“Your vote hasn’t counted for decades,” Marchant told the crowd. “You didn’t choose anyone. The people who are in office have been selected. You didn’t have a choice.”
Moments later, Sparks councilman Kristopher Dahir — another GOP foreign secretary candidate — said he had insulted Marchant’s claim “because I believe I was actually really elected.”
Dahir told The Associated Press this week that he doesn’t think there has been widespread fraud in 2020.
“I believe I am the only candidate willing to accept the results, but I will work hard to ensure that as Nevadans there is no reason to have questions about this incredible right that we have,” he wrote in an email.
According to States United Action, a bipartisan advocacy group that tracks candidates, nearly two dozen Republican candidates running for their state’s chief election official nationwide are in denial about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Among those who have advanced to November’s election are Michigan’s Kristina Karamo, Minnesota’s Kim Crockett and New Mexico’s Audrey Trujillo. Last month, Georgia’s Jody Hice lost his bid to oust Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in that state’s GOP primary despite having Trump’s endorsement. Raffensperger drew Trump’s wrath He declined the former president’s requestin a phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Nevada — a state Trump has twice lost but where he remains popular with Republicans — is a top priority for the GOP this year as the party seeks to win a majority in the US Senate. Trump has backed his 2020 Nevada campaign chair, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, in his efforts to unseat first-term Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. He has also endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for governor.
Laxalt has repeated Trump’s lies about the 2020 elections, but was criticized at a recent debate by one of his main opponents for not doing enough.
“When President Trump, Nevadans and Americans relied on you to be the one to challenge all sorts of issues in the 2020 election, you merely filed a lawsuit that, by your own admission, came too late,” the candidate said Sam Brown, a former United States Army Captain who received a Purple Heart after being badly wounded in Afghanistan.
Laxalt said that as chairman of Trump’s Nevada campaign, he “raised every alarm possible when Democrats radically changed our elections,” noting that the secretary of state, not the attorney general, was responsible for investigating voter fraud in Nevada. For the 2020 election, absentee ballots were mailed to all registered voters – a temporary step that has since been made permanent.
Trump has yet to weigh the secretary of state race, despite supporting Marchant in his unsuccessful 2020 congressional bid. Trump also hasn’t offered support for the attorney general in the state’s Republican primary, a race that features a pair of Las Vegas attorneys who have focused more on personal attacks than voter fraud concerns.
In the Secretary of State contest, Marchant isn’t the only GOP candidate to question the integrity of elections, and particularly the use of voting machines to cast and count votes.
At the February forum, candidate Socorro Keenan compared the US elections to other countries “where they know how to cheat,” while candidate Richard Scotti said he agreed with calls for the elimination of voting machines because “the data they record in the evening are never the same in the morning.”
Another candidate, businessman and former state legislator Jesse Haw, has accused Democrats of changing voting rules to rig the system, calling for voter identification requirements and new restrictions on mail-in ballots.
The electoral claims appear to be resonating with GOP primary voters.
At a recent rally in northern Nevada for Brown, the Senate nominee, several Republicans said they remain convinced Trump won 2020 and that the integrity of the election is a primary concern.
Ingrid Lentz, 70, of Reno, said she believes there were “invisible forces” behind previous elections.
“I believe the election was stolen,” added Ken Gray, chairman of the rural Lyon County board of commissioners, who is running for a seat in the state legislature.
Charlie Fettig, a retired general contractor from Reno, said that “a lot of illegal things were done” in 2020, adding that he has no faith in mailboxes for absentee voting or absentee voting in general.
“It just opens it up to corruption,” Fettig said.
To be clear, the federal government’s top security experts have called the 2020 presidential election “the safest in American history” Trumps own Attorney General had said there was no cheating that altered the results and there was no proof to point out that Trump was cheated out of a second term.
External money funded ads in the GOP primary for Secretary of State. The Virginia-based Americans for Secure Elections PAC, which received $1.2 million from three groups that are not disclosing their donors, has ads in support of , according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks fundraising at these races Haw aired. According to the Brennan Center, the PAC recently ran ads attacking Marchant while another PAC aired ads in support of him.
On the Democrat side, attorney and former Nevada Athletic Commission chair Cisco Aguilar is running unopposed in the primary. In an interview, he praised the current foreign minister for ensuring that steps are taken a safe choice and said he will build on the work of the legislature to expand voting access. He criticized the GOP field for spreading misinformation about the state’s secure voting methods.
“Unfortunately, we have a group of candidates who are trying to scare voters,” Aguilar said.
Election experts say candidates who repeat untruths and misinformation could pose a threat if they find themselves in a position to monitor elections. They may be motivated to interfere in the administration of future elections or simply use their position to cast doubt on the results.
“That person could create an environment of instability and doubt based on lies, and that instability could lead to political violence,” said David Becker, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who heads the Center for Election Innovation and Research. “It’s not a hypothesis, as we saw on Jan. 6.”
Cassidy reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writer Gabe Stern of Minden, Nevada contributed to this report.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/11/conspiracies-dominate-gop-primary-for-nevada-elections-post/ Conspiracies dominate the GOP primaries for the Nevada election post