Most MAGAt Secretary Of State Candidates Lost-- Indiana Is The Glaring Exception
The Democrats swept Michigan on Tuesday. They won every statewide election. Republicans did miserably across the board but their crackpot Secretary of State candidate, Kristina Karamo, a Trumpist election denier and proud MAGAt did worst of all. Look at both the actual number of votes and the percenatges. Karamo-- and her threat to basic democracy-- was even too much for Republican voters willing to support MAGAt imbeciles like Dixon and DePerno:
Tudor Dixon (governor)- 1,957,325 (43.9%)
Matthew DePerno (attorney general)- 1,949,082 (44.5%)
Kristina Karamo (secretary of state)- 1,849,434 (41.9%)
When I woke up this morning, 83% of the ballots has been counted in Nevada and the absentee ballots had started to figure into the state tallies. The statewide Republicans were all still ahead, although their margins were shrinking as mail-in-ballots were being counted. And there was a similar pattern— their Secretary of State candidate, Jim Marchant, even more off the deep end than Michigan’s Karamo, was getting fewer votes than the other statewide candidates
Governor- Joe Lombardo- 442,306 (50.1%)
U.S. Senate- Adam Laxalt- 436,854 (49.4%)
Attorney General- Sigal Chattah- 433,518 (44.7%)
Secretary of State- Jim Marchant- 433,301 (48.01%)
In Arizona, around 70% of the ballots have been counted and the pattern is holding up there as well. Their secretary of state candidate, Mark Finchem, the most radical MAGAt on the ballot, is doing the worst (other than the joke Senate candidate who billionaire Peter Thiel tried to buy a seat for).
Governor- Kari Lake- 940,716 (49.66%)
Attorney General- Abraham Hamadeh- 929,036 (49.89%)
Secretary of State- Mark Finchem- 890,376 (47.6%)
U.S. Senate- Blake Masters- 884,191 (46.4%)
A majority of voters seem to be aware of the real threat to democracy the MAGAt candidates for secretary of state posed. Writing for the Washington Post this morning, Tim Starks and Aaron Schaffer reported that Nearly Every Election-Denying Secretary of State Candidate Lost. “Most of the most prominent election-denying secretary of state candidates either suffered a rebuke by voters or appeared headed toward one if the current vote tally trends hold. In Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico, Democrats prevailed over Republicans who said Donald Trump’s bid for president was stolen from him in 2020, despite no evidence of widespread problems. And in Pennsylvania, where the governor selects the secretary of state, Democrat Josh Shapiro overcame election-denying Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.”
In fact, Shapiro beat Mastriano 2,958,431 (56.1%) to 2,220,722 (42.1%), impressive when you recall that in Pennsylvania Biden scored 50.01% in 2020 and Hillary had scored just 47.46% in 2016.
“[E]lection security advocates and observers,” they wrote, “are nervously watching two more races that are too close to call. In Arizona, Democrat Adrian Fontes is leading Mark Finchem, while in Nevada, Republican Jim Marchant is ahead of Democrat Cisco Aguilar. In Indiana, Republican election-denier Diego Morales defeated Destiny Wells. If Finchem or Marchant end up winning, they’d hold power over future races despite their refusal to accept legitimate election results. Experts also fear victories by election-deniers could leave the door open for future candidates for secretary of state to run on a platform of challenging election results.”
Secretary of state authorities vary widely from state-to-state. In a state like Georgia, the secretary of state selects voting machine vendors. In other states, they might only certify voting machines that local officials select.
For instance, Nevada’s Marchant has advocated for an all-paper ballot system, saying that voting machines are easily hackable— an idea central to some of the conspiracies about Trump’s loss. But it’s something that most election security experts say is a bad idea.
“It’s like, ‘Okay, let’s spend months counting ballots in one contest badly, instead of having machines help and getting results expeditiously,’” Mark Lindeman, policy and strategy director at Verified Voting, told me. “That is, in a way, a choice of voting system. … It’s sort of anti-cyber, but it’s absolutely cyber done poorly.”
The primary way a rogue secretary of state could cause trouble is by refusing to sign off on election outcomes they don’t like. They could also throw a wrench in elections by making it harder to vote, sowing distrust of results or allowing endless audits and recounts, as my colleague Amber Phillips wrote.
A widely discredited partisan review of the 2020 election in Arizona ended up causing cybersecurity issues for the voting equipment. (The review was initiated by Republicans in the state Senate, not by the secretary of state.)
In Arizona, Trump-backed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has said she wouldn’t have certified the results of the 2020 election. Her race— against former secretary of state Katie Hobbs (D)— is also too close to call.
There are some checks and balances that can mitigate the harm secretaries of state can do if they refuse to certify legitimate election results, though, like other government officials or the courts, Amber wrote.
Sometimes a secretary of state can cause problems not only by what they do, but by what they don’t do, as Lindeman pointed out. They could do the opposite of what happened in Colorado, where Secretary of State Jena Griswold intervened to remove Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. A judge found that Peters was “untruthful” about bringing a non-county employee in to copy hard drives of voting machines, which can cause a bevy of cybersecurity issues. Peters ran for secretary of state this year but lost her primary election by around 88,000 votes.
Of course, we’ve seen more than just one election denier prove problematic at the local level. We’ve seen counties refuse to certify election results. And we’ve seen more local officials than Peters who have allegedly granted outsiders access to voting machines.
“The whole problem,” University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman told the New Yorker’s Sue Halpern, “is that we have an election system that just fundamentally assumes that our voting machines are not going to have vulnerabilities that anyone will be able to discover and exploit, because anyone who is a gatekeeper to those machines will always be trustworthy, and will never let anyone who might have sinister motives near them.”
“Just like yesterday I wasn’t prepared to say that democracy was dead, I’m not prepared to say this morning that the threat from election denialism is completely vanquished,” Edward Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University who studies U.S. elections, told our colleagues Emma Brown, Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman. “I don’t think we are ‘out of the woods’ yet by any means.”
“It’s dangerous to have people that don’t fundamentally believe in democracy in charge of democracy when they’ve already demonstrated they have an intent to pull it down,” Susan Greenhalgh, senior election security adviser of the nonprofit group Free Speech For People, told me.
“It’s a cold comfort to know that the secretaries of state can step in and enforce the laws and regulations to ensure that votes are counted and outcomes are certified in those places, if you have people lower down the rungs who might try to throw sand in the gears.”
Even in Indiana, tribal Republican voters thought twice about voting for the anti-democracy MAGAt the GOP put up for secretary of state. There was no gubernatorial or attorney general race but look at the statewide results:
Treasurer- Daniel Elliott- 1,104,043 (60.8%)
U.S. Senate- Todd Young- 1,082,525 (58.7%)
Auditor- Tera Klutz- 1,074,866 (59.9%)
Secretary of State- Diego Morales- 985,110 (54.1%)
It had nothing to do with the Democrats who were running in any of the races. But even some Republicans realized they would be voting against America if they supported the MAGAt running for Indiana Secretary of State (although the credible, multiple sex predator charges against him might have hurt too).