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In 5 Key Battlegrounds, Most GOP State Legislative Candidates Are Holocaust Deniers, Report Says

Nearly 6 in 10 Republican candidates for state legislature in five key battleground states deny the 2020 election results, according to an analysis by a race monitoring group.

Of those 450 Republican candidates — including incumbents running for re-election and non-incumbents — in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Minnesota, 58% of them echoed the lies of the former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him, research shows. shared exclusively with NBC News by The States Project, a left-leaning group that has followed state legislative races in battleground states.

Experts warn that if enough of these election-ruling candidates are elected, Republican majorities in state houses on these crucial battlegrounds could have the power to rewrite election laws and affect future elections, including in 2024, when Trump could run again.

“When Holocaust deniers are in control, they will do whatever they can to undermine free and fair elections,” said Daniel Squadron, executive director of The States Project.

“We know that the rules for elections and determining winners are set by the legislative process, so what these people do would have a huge impact” on “everyone who can register and who can vote the way the results are counted,” added Squadron. .

These five states (and many more) are also fielding deniers as Republican candidates in the races for governor and secretary of state — offices that have the power to oversee, administer, and certify elections. . If deniers of those races win, their ability to influence future elections could be bolstered by having cooperative deniers in their state houses to help pass legislation redoing certain election laws in those states.

“People who hold such extreme views about the last election could push for changes to the voting process that would both make it harder for eligible voters to vote and much more difficult for the administration of the election,” the official said. election expert Rick Pildes, a New York University. Professor at the Faculty of Law.

Pildes pointed to various proposals in states like Arizona and Nevada that would mandate counting ballots by hand and curtail mail-in and mail-in voting. Kari Lake, Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, suggested last weekend that she would support efforts to limit early voting if elected.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, lawmakers in 21 states have passed at least 42 laws with voting restrictions, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

Twenty-four bills that interfere with election administration have already been signed into law in 17 states in 2022, and hundreds more have been introduced, according to the nonpartisan United Democracy Center of the United States. Many of the tougher proposals could make it easier for state lawmakers to overturn election results, such as bills in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan that would give lawmakers partial or full control over election results. . Others would allow a state legislature’s partisan majority to conduct election audits or have more power to subjugate their own voters (although experts like Pildes have suggested such proposals could ultimately be ruled unconstitutional). ).

The potential impact that state legislatures could have on upcoming elections could expand further, depending on how the Supreme Court decides a major election-related case next year. The case, Moore v. Harper, primarily revolves around Republicans seeking to limit the power of state courts to review gerrymandered maps and restrictions on voting. But if the justices adopt a conservative legal theory – known as the independent state legislature theory – in their ruling, it could have the effect of granting state legislatures exclusive power to set election rules and arrangements. in the States.

Trump supporters have defended that position during disputes over the 2020 presidential election, saying state courts lack the power to change mail-in voting rules. These arguments did not prevail, but at least four members of the United States Supreme Court found them compelling.

The court is due to hear arguments in that case in December.

How critical battlegrounds like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan conduct their future elections could very well determine the winner of future presidential races.

“State legislatures have a lot of discretion within the rules that federal law imposes on how to regulate the electoral process – and there are many reasons, based on [what] some of the candidates from those states have expressed concern about how that discretion might be used,” Pildes said.

“These are critical presidential swing states, where wafer-thin margins determine the winners,” Squadron added.

In its analysis, The States Project, a Democratic group that focuses on winning state elections, defined a Holocaust denier as a candidate who questioned or denied the results of the 2020 election. examined the public comments, social media posts and political pledges of every Republican candidate for state legislature in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

The group’s analysis found that election deniers were most prevalent in the Arizona state legislative races, where they made up 87% of all Republican candidates in those races.

Among them are State Senator Wendy Rogers and State Representative Jake Hoffman, who have called for their state’s 2020 election results to be decertified, and State Senate candidate Justine Wadsack, who has expressed support for the conspiracy theories pushed by QAnon.

Hoffman was also among a handful of so-called bogus state voters who signed paperwork claiming they were their state’s legitimate voters and that Trump — not Joe Biden — had won the state.

In Pennsylvania and Michigan, 62% of all Republican legislative candidates in each state were Holocaust deniers, the group found.

This included at least eight Michigan State Senate candidates or incumbents who had signed various letters or briefs seeking to void the 2020 results in the state or delay certification of the results.

In Minnesota, 42% of all Republican candidates in the state legislature were Holocaust deniers, while in Nevada, 31% were. This included several Minnesota incumbents and candidates who had questioned or challenged the 2020 election results.

“We have good reason to be concerned about the integrity of the [electoral] process at all levels and one of the main concerns among those worries is what state legislatures might do,” Pildes said.

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