Election deniers—candidates who promote conspiracy theories and lies about rigged elections and fraud—loom large in the secretary of state races across the country.
In Minnesota, Republican secretary of state candidate Kim Crockett has repeatedly attacked the election process and insisted on the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
Secretaries of state are the top state election officials. They can exercise power to influence the way elections are held, including making voting more difficult.
At least 23 election deniers ran for secretary of state offices in 19 states this year. So far, at least eight have won their primaries and are official Republican candidates.
Besides Minnesota, these states include Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Alabama, Indiana, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. On the other hand, an election denier lost her bid for the Republican nomination for secretary of state in Colorado. In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s demand to “find votes” and change the outcome of the election, won a hard-fought battle in the Republican primary.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, who has held the office for three terms, is running for re-election. Simon’s website describes Minnesota elections as “fundamentally fair, accurate, honest, and secure,” and says his mission is “protecting the freedom to vote.”
Crockett’s extreme and sometimes bizarre positions include anti-Semitic attacks on Simon, racist statements, and inaccurate descriptions of election law and the job of the secretary of state. Despite her own record of voting by absentee ballot, she has also attacked absentee voting.
Election deniers are also prominent in races for governor and attorney general positions across the country. They include the Minnesota Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. The successful Minnesota Republican candidate for attorney general defeated a particularly rabid election denier in the August 9 primary. Election deniers won contested races for the Republican nomination for governor in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
As the primary season draws to a close across the nation, attention shifts to the November general election. Winning a primary election means winning the majority of one party’s voters in that primary. Primary voters are often the most committed, most opinionated of the party voters.
The real question lies ahead in November: will the election deniers be able to win a majority of all voters in the general elections?
Mary Turck is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. She has published extensively as a journalist and has edited the Connection to the Americas and of the TC Daily Planet. Her website, maryturck.com, includes her literary and political blogs.