Republicans have continued to embrace the myth of a stolen election in the annual right-wing conclave of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), underscoring how the party continues to uphold the baseless idea months after Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 race. and the deadly assault on the Capitol.
This year’s gathering of some of the party’s most ardent supporters has seven staggering sessions focusing on voter fraud and election-related issues. Several have incendiary titles. “Other culprits, why the judges and the media refuse to look at the evidence,” was the name of a panel discussion on Friday. “The left pulled the strings, covered it up and even admits it,” was another. “Failed States (GA, PA, NV, oh!)” Is the title of another scheduled for this weekend.
Several speakers on Friday repeated debunked falsehoods about the election. Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock repeated the lie that there were “mysterious late-night ballot dumps” that changed Joe Biden’s election and that vehicles with out-of-state license plates were unloading ballots in the wee hours of the day. choice. Both claims have been debunked.
Stoking fears about fraud and advocating for stricter voting rules has become commonplace among Republicans in recent years, but in the wake of Trump’s presidency, and his loss to Biden, it has become a cry of common warfare in the party. Still, some observers said the focus on fanning the flames of the conspiracy theory at CPAC remained alarming.
“A 2020 Voting Lessons Learned Program is appropriate for restoring confidence in half of America, but not seven!” said Eric Johnson, a former Republican lawmaker in Georgia who advised Kelly Loeffler on the US Senate campaign.
“Donald Trump convinced his base – the majority of Republicans, if the polls are to be believed – that the election was stolen. Although the CPAC organizers probably know it to be false, they are using this as a wedge problem to get the grassroots excited and sell more tickets, ”said Nick Pasternak, who recently left the Republican Party after working on several Republican campaigns.
He added: “CPAC’s willingness to make elections such an important issue this year is a worrying symbol of what many in the party think and what they will do.”
Despite the fact that dozens of judges across the country, including several appointed by Donald Trump, rejected the fraud allegations after the election, Murdock and other CPAC speakers accused the judges of being unwilling to examine evidence of fraud.
Hans von Spakovsky, a well-known conservative who has promoted more restrictive voting policies for years, claimed that judges were reluctant to look at the evidence because they feared they would be attacked. “When it becomes an extraordinary electoral contest, with national implications and in which they run the risk of being attacked by one of the political parties, the media, their reluctance becomes even greater,” he said.
When asked if the judges were afraid to look at the evidence, Von Spakovsky added: “I think that in some cases that is true, in other cases they could have had valid procedural grounds, but it sure did not seem so to me.”
When asked how much evidence of fraud there was now, Murdock falsely said, “It may already be shredded.”
Jesse Binnall, a lawyer who represented the Trump campaign in Nevada, complained about the short time the lawyers had to build a case after the election and claimed that the judges were pressured by the media who reported that the election fraud was not a widespread problem. “Right or wrong, they never tried to find out the facts about the electoral fraud,” he said. “They cut off our legs even before we got to court.”
Litigants in US courts must meet procedural thresholds to advance their case, which prevents the courts from having to hear frivolous claims. Time and again, Trump and his allies failed to convince the courts to clear those bars.
“One might expect that when seeking such a surprising result, a plaintiff will come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of rampant corruption,” wrote Matthew Braun, a federal judge in Pennsylvania, in December while dismissing an effort by Trump and its allies to block the certification of election results there. “Instead, this court has been presented with tense legal arguments without merit and speculative indictments … unsupported by the evidence.”
Comments on CPAC underscore how Republicans continue to fuel election uncertainty – even after Republican and Democratic judges and elected officials alike repeatedly examined allegations of wrongdoing and found no fraud, they continue to insist there is unexamined evidence. . In state legislatures across the country, new voting restrictions are being imposed. There are at least 253 pending bills to restrict voting in the United States, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.
In his remarks on Friday, Von Spakovsky voiced his support for efforts to restrict voting by mail and said HR1, the bill pending in Congress that would require automatic and same-day registration, among other reforms, “the draft most undemocratic law I have ever seen in my 20 years in Washington. “
Jay Williams, a Republican strategist in Georgia, said that focusing on the election was a way to garner support among the party’s loyal base, which remains largely loyal to Trump and his allies.
“I would not equate ‘the party’ with CPAC, so I would not give it much importance from that perspective,” he said. “CPAC exists to make money, so it comes as no surprise that the organizers have tackled this issue as a way to drive engagement with their target market.”