A year after the uprising, Republicans across the country are still promoting Trump’s election lies
In the deeply liberal state of Washington, a local Republican party attempted a door knock to uncover phantom voters.
In Crow Wing County, Minnesota, a bright red enclave in a state that has turned blue in presidential elections since 1976, residents are urging the committee of commissioners for a post-election review.
“Thirty-two of these bills were enacted in 17 states, which is a truly unprecedented level of legislative interest in the mechanics of election administration,” said Jessica Marsden, legal advisor for the nonprofit Protect Democracy.
Efforts to undermine confidence in election results – such as spreading conspiracies via voting machines, demanding audits, and door knocking to uncover non-existent widespread fraud – began in hotly contested battlefield states, but have since evolved into a nationwide crusade.
Marsden said she feared the continued spread of misinformation could lead to more political violence in the future or be used as fodder for lawmakers trying to overturn the will of voters.
“When we look back to 2020, I think we should see it as a test run or first draft of an attempt to produce free and fair election results,” Marsden said. “Those bills are part of that story, but disinformation we shared in a coordinated manner about what happened in 2020 is another part of that story, and we shouldn’t lose sight of this ball as we move through 2022 and go in 2023. “and begin to prepare seriously for the 2024 elections.”
“I don’t think anything was exposed”
Colorado State Representative Ron Hanks was among those who appeared at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Since then, the Republican has sustained the deluge of misinformation about elections in his home country and launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate late last year.
Hanks said he did not go into the building and claimed in a radio interview in July that he believed protesters from Antifa and Black Lives Matter were among the agitators.
In an interview with CNN, Hanks did not specifically blame other groups for the uprising, but did suggest they weren’t Trump supporters who came from the former president’s rally in town earlier in the day.
“We were a little surprised to see people climbing the scaffolding and waving flags,” said Hanks. “They didn’t seem like the same people we’d just spent the last seven hours with.”
Hanks has also called for a 2020 election review in his home state, despite Biden winning Colorado by nearly 14 points.
“What we’re looking for is a full forensic review of the systems,” Hanks told CNN. “We see that a majority of the American people now believe that there was fraud in the 2020 election, probably fraud in the previous election. And if we can penetrate the systems, we will find it. “
In Fremont County, Colorado, which represents Hanks on the state legislature, Secretary Justin Grantham said he was aware of Hanks’ inaccurate claims about the 2020 election and campaign advertising.
“With his copier that he blew up with a rifle?” Grantham asked in an interview: “Yes, I saw that.”
Grantham said the hopeful Senate had rejected repeated advances to learn firsthand about the electoral system.
“I made several offers to come to my office and talk to me about the election, but he didn’t respond and didn’t come in,” Grantham said.
Hanks told CNN, “I appreciate the invitation from the Fremont County Clerk and Recorder. I didn’t really need her. I’ve been to other places.
As for those explosive commercials, Hanks told CNN that they took a bit of a “Hollywood license,” and it was actually a copier that he was targeting. However, Hanks said his concerns about the Dominion’s voting machines and other issues related to the 2020 election were real.
When a reporter found many of his claims had been debunked, Hanks disagreed.
“I don’t think anything has been exposed,” said Hanks. “We found evidence and it is getting worse every day.”
A Dominion spokesman, meanwhile, warned of ads like Hanks’, in a statement saying, “Election misinformation is inherently dangerous, but violent demonstrations put even more direct threats to our employees and customers, who have been the target of ongoing harassment and threats.”
Conspiracies are buzzing from Washington state to Alabama
In Washington state, the Republican Party of Skagit County has alleged its door knocking efforts had already uncovered “anomalies”.
The election campaign confused voters, who started calling the local auditor’s office, who then issued a statement stating that it was not an attempt by the government.
“This is not an official government survey and community members shouldn’t feel compelled to answer questions unless they want to,” said Sandy Perkins, Skagit County auditor. A Perkins spokesman added that while the auditor’s office provided spreadsheets of the alleged anomalies, it has still not found any evidence of widespread fraud.
Back in Alabama, Merrill said debunking allegations made by non-pollers, including Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, was an easy exercise.
In a meeting, Lindell and coworkers presented information about IP addresses to Merrill. Merrill said many of them were not affiliated with the Electoral Department or even the state of Alabama. In another case, they showed Merrill evidence that a suspicious number of people were registered at the same address.
“When they presented this information, we started doing a Google search for that information and one of the addresses it showed was an apartment complex. One of the addresses they showed was an assisted living facility. One of the addresses they showed was a nursing home, ”Merrill said in an interview. “The information they shared with us could have been cleared up by a simple Google search for addresses.”
Merrill – who has assured reporters, voters, and election skeptics outside of the state that the Alabama elections were fair and safe – said he believed misinformation snowballed because people obtained information from uninformed or intentionally misleading sources.
“I think a lot of these are people who listen to people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, people who fabricate information, fabricate numbers that have absolutely no evidence,” Merrill said. “It is almost as if they are claiming that murder was committed and yet they cannot prove that the person was ever alive, let alone a corpse or a weapon.”
2020 elections “will not die”
Other officials are making additional efforts to appease their constituents.
In Minnesota’s Crow Wing County, the committee has been inundated with unsubstantiated claims that the votes have been changed and that the county’s electoral equipment may be corrupt.
“This log will tell us if the thing went online and changed voices. That’s the real question,” one resident said at a recent board meeting, reiterating a widespread conspiracy. “Can we do a test and do the paper choices and compare it to what the electronics say?”
Several members of the commissioner’s office expressed confidence about the elections in the county, including Commissioner Paul Koering.
However, when CNN requested an interview with Koering to discuss the exam request, he declined. Instead, he read the interview request during a county board meeting this week and passed it on to an election skeptic who led the audit drive. At the same meeting, the board voted 4-1 to ask the Minnesota Secretary of State to review the election papers.
It is not a request that Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, is likely to grant.
“There is no legitimate reason to question the integrity of the Crow Wing County or Minnesota election, particularly 14 months after the general election,” Simon said in an interview. “We certainly will not conduct extensive investigations based on moods, suspicions, and beliefs – no matter how sincere they are held.”
Simon said if local residents are aware of certain cases where something has gone wrong, they should report those cases to law enforcement.
Simon said while most Minnesota residents believe in the state’s elections, he said a vocal minority of often well-meaning voters were misled by election lies.
“Have we heard of people advocating all sorts of disinformation and false facts about the 2020 elections? Yeah, that was a pretty constant drumbeat, ”said Simon. “2020 is the choice that won’t die.”