Election Deniers Denied—Mostly

Michigan secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo speaks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022 in Warren, Michigan. (Photo by Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

High-profile candidates parroting stolen-election claims had a down night Tuesday. Although some races remain too close to call, the trend extends to races for state-level positions responsible for administering fair elections.

The number of candidates running for secretary of state this year who made election denying a key feature—or at least cozied up to conspiracies—raised concerns among political scientists and democracy-focused organizations. “It’s important that the people overseeing democracy believe in that democracy,” David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, said Wednesday.

Voters apparently think so too. In secretary of state contests in swing states especially, voters largely rejected candidates denying the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. So far, Audrey Trujillo in New Mexico, Dominic Rapini in Connecticut, Kim Crockett in Minnesota, and Kristina Karamo in Michigan lost to incumbent Democrats. In Vermont, the election-denying Republican candidate lost a long-shot bid too.

The degrees to which each candidate sowed doubt about 2020 varied: Crocket called the election rigged, and Trujillo called it a coup. Karamo falsely claimed that Donald Trump won Michigan and testified during a state Senate hearing on fraud. Rapini formerly served as chairman of Fight Voter Fraud, a Wyoming-based organization that pushed conspiracies about the 2020 election. While running, he said at times that Joe Biden was “duly elected” but continued to campaign on disproven claims about the 2020 election. 

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