Many of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.
The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.
Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.
But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.
The Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.
And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.
That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.
Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States United Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.” [Continue reading…]