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Poll worker talks to a voter on April 7, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: Andy Manis/Getty Images)

Now Every Day Is January 6: Trump Targets the 'Vote Counters'

After losing the election, Trump and his allies pressured officials in key states to reverse the popular outcome. The effort failed, and now—state by state—Trump is getting even.

Steven Harper

Next time, former President Donald Trump may not even have to ask.

After losing the election, Trump and his allies pressured officials in key states to reverse the popular outcome. The effort failed, and now—state by state—Trump is getting even.

In Georgia

After losing the popular vote in Georgia, Trump pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—a Republican who voted for Trump—to "find" the 11,780 votes needed to make him the winner. That attempt to subvert the election is now the subject of a special grand jury investigation. But in addition to death threats that Raffensperger and his family received from Trump supporters, he is paying a professional price for his resistance.

A little-publicized feature of Georgia's restrictive new voting law removes the secretary of state as chair of the five-person state election board. Instead, the GOP-controlled General Assembly now elects the chair. The secretary of state isn't even a voting member.

Trump still wants Raffensperger out. In March, he endorsed Rep. Jody Hice's run against Raffensperger in the Republican primary.

Why Hice?

Immediately after the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021, he voted to reject the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Earlier that morning, Hice had posted a picture on Instagram calling that day "our 1776 moment." He condemned Trump's second impeachment.

In May, Hice told CNN, "I believe if there was a fair election, it would be a different outcome." He "absolutely" still believed that Trump had won Georgia. The long list of Trump's unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the state's election results proves otherwise.

Now try to wrap your head around this: If Trump is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Raffensperger hasn't ruled out voting for him.

In Michigan

Because Michigan's top "vote counter" in November 2020 was a Democrat, Trump maneuvered around her. Only hours after a GOP member of the Wayne County board (which includes Detroit) voted to certify the county's vote, Trump personally phoned her. After the call, she tried to rescind her certification. That ploy didn't work.

Then he invited Republican leaders of the state's legislature to the White House. But the will of the people prevailed. Trump lost Michigan by 154,000 votes, and he lost all of the lawsuits challenging the outcome.

So Trump has now endorsed Kristina Karamo to become the Republican nominee for Michigan secretary of state. Why Karamo?

On her podcast the day after the January 6 insurrection, she said, "I believe this is completely Antifa posing as Trump supporters." She is a vocal proponent of Trump's Big Lie and has called for the removal of Republican "traitors" from office.

Here are her other qualifications to serve in one of Michigan highest elective offices:

  • She has a master's degree in Christian apologetics—the study of the defense of Christianity against objections—from Biola University, an evangelical university in Southern California.
  • In a November 2020 podcast, she said that the Democratic party "has totally been taken over by a satanic agenda."
  • She calls public schools "government indoctrination camps" that expose children to "unbridled wickedness."

Among candidates for the GOP nomination, Karamo is the leading fundraiser.

In Arizona

Trump has endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem to become Arizona's secretary of state. On January 5, 2021, Finchem addressed Trump's crowd at the "Stop the Steal" pre-rally in Washington, D.C.

"I want you to hear a message from Americans," Finchem said, speaking rhetorically to lawmakers who were defending the popular vote outcome and questioning #StopTheSteal activists. "This ain't going away."

The next day, Finchem attended the January 6 insurrection. Later he claimed that he was never within 500 yards of the U.S. Capitol building. Photos and video demonstrated otherwise.

An outspoken purveyor of Trump's Big Lie, Finchem also attended the October 2021 QAnon convention—"For God & Country: Patriot Double Down."

So did Michigan's Kristina Karamo.

Now for the really bad news

Across the country, the Big Lie has become a dominant feature of Republican campaigns for secretary of state. Twenty-seven states will hold elections for that position in 2022, including several that are likely to determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential race: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin. So far, Trump has made endorsements in only three of them and none has won yet.

More will come.

Trump is exploiting the soft underbelly of America's election system: the top "vote counters" in key states. As he travels the country endorsing promoters of his Big Lie for those crucial jobs, democracy's defenders have promises to keep—and miles to go before we sleep.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Steven Harper

Steven J. Harper is an attorney, adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, and author of several books, including Crossing Hoffa — A Teamster’s Story and The Lawyer Bubble — A Profession in Crisis. He has been a regular columnist for Moyers on Democracy, Dan Rather’s News & Guts, and The American Lawyer.

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