Twenty-seven states are holding secretary of state elections in November, and in at least 13 of them, a candidate has suggested that the 2020 presidential election results were not legitimate.
The secretary of state is generally the top elections official, responsible for certifying statewide election results. Republicans in several swing states tried to put forward an alternate slate of electors in a bid to deny President Joe Biden’s election win in 2020, leading to concerns that if elected to senior government posts this cycle, election skeptics would thwart the will of voters in future elections.
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The candidates who have pushed the unfounded theory that former President Donald Trump won in 2020 have differing prospects of actually taking office and have expressed varying levels of doubt about the election in their campaigns. Some have retracted their more extreme stances since winning the primary and are now advocating stricter or streamlined voting processes.
Since the election-denying candidates in Ohio and North Dakota are third-party or independent outsiders, here are the 11 states where a secretary of state nominee has expressed doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. The State United Democracy Center compiled examples of social media posts of candidates questioning the election, and its research is often linked below.
In Alabama, state Rep. Wes Allen (R) told Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to “stand firm” when he showed solidarity with Texas’s attempt to sue four states that showed signs of “voter irregularities” in December 2020. He also advanced several election security bills as a state representative and said he would oppose any internet-connected form of voting machines if he became secretary of state.
Allen came in second in the May primary against State Auditor Jim Zeigler by 3 percentage points, then won the runoff election by almost 30 points. Zeigler was a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition that several candidates elsewhere are a part of. The organization’s goal is to advance election security through measures including paper ballots, voter ID, and single-day voting.
Allen will face Democrat Pamela Laffitte in the November election.
Arizona’s Maricopa County was a hotbed of election fraud claims. State Rep. Mark Finchem (R), a member of the America First SoS Coalition who is running against Democrat Adrian Fontes (D), has claimed the documentary 2,000 Mules showed “indisputable evidence of election fraud.”
“I’m not talking about overturning an election. I’m talking about overturning one county’s election as irredeemably compromised,” Finchem said in a recent interview.
Connecticut’s Republican secretary of state candidate Dominic Rapini, a backer of “common sense” voting laws, has said in a Facebook post that “anybody who responds that ‘claims’ of Voter Fraud are baseless are just deluding themselves and drinking the liberal cool-aid.”
He tweeted on Jan. 6, 2020, in a reply to a tweet from the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of State condemning the riot on the U.S. Capitol: “The real COUP has been prosecuted by Democrats with fake Russian collusion theories and wide spread systematic voter fraud.”
He has since walked back his claims about the election.
“I’ve said Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States, and I’ve said that on multiple occasions,” the Republican candidate said earlier this month. “What I’ve done, which I think is the responsibility of every voter, is ask questions about elections, and since 2019, I’ve been working very hard to understand how Connecticut elections work and understand the problems that we have, which are considerable.”
In Indiana, candidate Diego Morales, formerly a senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, has disputed some election results in other states.
“We have valid reasons to doubt the official vote tallies in key states,” he wrote in a May op-ed, adding, “The 2020 election was flawed and the outcome is questionable.”
However, he has also qualified that “Joe Biden is the legitimate President.”
Morales didn’t show up to a debate last week in which he would have faced Democratic candidate Destiny Wells.
Republican Rayla Campbell in Massachusetts questioned the 2020 election results in apparently deleted tweets. One on Dec. 21, 2020, said that “GOP Senator[s] need to grow a backbone and stand with the President.” In another: “So are we to believe that the same people who spied, framed, set up a President wouldn’t cheat in an election to get rid of someone they see as worse than Hitler?”
She is facing Democrat William Galvin.
Michigan’s GOP secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo has said that Trump rightfully won the state. Detroit was another hotbed of election fraud claims, and her fight for Trump earned her his endorsement.
“Good luck Kristina, and while you’re at it, check out the fake election results that took place in the city of Detroit,” he said.
Karmo is trying to oust incumbent Jocelyn Benson (D).
Attorney Kim Crockett (R) has said that the 2020 election was “lawless” and “rigged.”
“We realize people are discouraged and this is still an exceptional nation,” Crockett said during a radio appearance in early September 2021. “We are still the American people, and I’m betting on us. This is a challenge. Maybe we needed a wake-up call. This is our 9/11.”
A Republican hasn’t won statewide office in Minnesota since 2006, and Crockett is running against incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon (D).
Nevada was another locus of fraud claims as the state took days longer to count ballots than most others in 2020. Attorney Cisco Aguilar (D) is now facing state Assemblyman Jim Marchant (R), who has said it is “almost statistically impossible that Joe Biden won” the state.
Marchant is part of the America First Secretary of State slate and advocates simplifying elections with only paper ballots and restricting early voting. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is term-limited.
Audrey Trujillo (R), who is running for the post against incumbent Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), called the 2020 election a “huge coup” in a March interview and said the United States is “no better than any other communist country like Venezuela or any of these other states where our elections are being manipulated.”
She is also part of the America First coalition and said in a June interview with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, “Somebody asked me, ‘How do you know Trump won New Mexico?’ and I’m like, ‘We didn’t see Biden signs anywhere.’”
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H. Brooke Paige (R), who initially filed to run as a placeholder candidate but remains on the ballot, has made many Facebook posts about how he believes the elections are insecure in Vermont. He is running against Sarah Copeland-Hanza for secretary of state.
“The constant Drip-Drip-Drip of Election Fraud Evidence is Beginning to Add Up to a Bucket Load of Proof that the 2020 Election was Stolen!” he posted on Facebook in May 2021.
State Rep. Chuck Gray (R) is expected to become Wyoming’s next secretary of state because he has no Democratic challenger. Gray, in response to questions about whether he believes Wyoming’s elections were secure in 2020, said that “the answer to that is … there’s tremendous problems.”