WASHINGTON | If he finally called on his supporters to be “good losers”, the Republican candidate Larry Elder had denounced, like Donald Trump, “fraud” even before the referendum against the Democratic governor of California was held on Tuesday, a sign that the reflex the former president’s electoral “big lie” is anchored in the United States.
“They will cheat, we know it”, had launched to his supporters Mr. Elder, an ultra-conservative radio host, a week before the poll organized to try to dismiss Democrat Gavin Newsom.
Funded by its electoral support, a site “Stop the fraud” called for denouncing any “irregularity”.
“Does anyone really believe that the California recall referendum is not rigged?” Donald Trump hammered on Monday, before returning to the charge on Tuesday, while voters were voting, to denounce a “rigged vote”.
Governor Gavin Newsom has finally largely overcome this attempt to remove him from power in this great Democratic state, and Larry Elder has admitted defeat.
But the campaign crystallized a new era in American politics, showing that it was now deeply marked by the unfounded accusations of electoral fraud launched by Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election, won by his rival Joe Biden.
“Trump has never stopped contesting the 2020 election and that serves several purposes,” said Richard Hasen, professor of electoral law at the University of California at Irvine.
“It galvanizes the base and delegitimizes Biden’s presidency as well as Democratic victories in general,” he told AFP. “And that could potentially be used to try to change election results.”
Already, his electoral “big lie”, as his critics describe it, has deeply affected his camp: 78% of Republicans say Joe Biden did not win the presidential election in a poll published by CNN on Wednesday, almost eight months after the election. arrival of the Democrat to the White House.
And in several key states, which will be able to determine the outcome of the next crucial parliamentary elections of 2022 and the presidential election of 2024, the influential billionaire supports candidates who defend his “big lie” who are running for the positions of … the organization of elections.
Among the Trumpists who come forward: Mark Finchem in Arizona, Jody Hice in Georgia, Jim Marchant in Nevada and Kristina Karamo in Michigan.
Donald Trump’s support could lead to “a whole new level of politicization” of these positions of secretary of state, already partisan, says Richard Hasen.
“This, in my opinion, is the danger we face now: individuals who do not respect the integrity of the process will be the ones counting the ballots.”
As early as 2016 and despite his victory, Donald Trump had falsely claimed that illegal migrants and voters “dead for ten years” had voted en masse for his rival Hillary Clinton.
In California, the accusations of fraud hammered out by Donald Trump and Larry Elder even before the poll may have partly weakened the participation of discouraged Republicans, some in their camp were outraged.
“It is the most irresponsible act that I have seen from a candidate in California in 20 years in politics here,” said Ron Nehring, ex-chairman of the party in California, on Twitter. about the site to report fraud, promoted by Mr. Elder.
Donald Trump’s “big lie” “has spread and undermines confidence in our elections in a very dangerous way,” laments Stephen Spaulding, a Common Cause official.
This American organization which monitors good electoral practices therefore defends a Democratic bill that would prohibit the dismissal of electoral officials for political reasons.
But for him, he explained to AFP, the best way to overcome this undermining work is to mobilize:
“Voters must continue to vote in record numbers.”