Eroding trust: How election deniers endanger US democracy

Democrats have argued the future of democracy in the United States is at stake in the upcoming midterm elections as the Republican Party has nominated hundreds of candidates for public office who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 vote.

Experts say the decentralised US election system, coupled with legal checks and balances on the vote-counting process, make it extremely difficult for officials to illegitimately sway future contests.However, election denialism does pose a threat, said Lisa Bryant, a political science professor at California State University, Fresno: the erosion of trust in the democratic process and the institutions it produces.

Hundreds of election deniers

Election denialism – fuelled in large part by former US President Donald Trump who continues to falsely say that widespread voter fraud propelled Joe Biden to victory in 2020 – has gained prominence in the Republican Party over the past two years.

A January 2021 Pew Research Center poll showed that 75 percent of Trump voters believed he won the 2020 presidential race and most Republicans believed that fraud often happens in elections.

According to a recent analysis by the Washington Post, the majority of the Republican Party’s nominees for office, nearly 300 candidates, are election deniers. This includes people running for positions that allow them to oversee future elections.

For example, in Michigan, the Republican nominee for secretary of state rose to prominence in right-wing circles after amplifying Trump’s unfounded fraud allegations. If elected, Kristina Karamo – who has said Trump won Michigan in 2020 despite losing by 150,000 votes – would become the highest election authority in the state.

In a year when Republicans are expected to make political gains, Karamo and other election-denying candidates, many of whom have been endorsed by Trump himself, may win in swing states that decide future presidential contests.

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