The Trump-Bannon Plan to Take Over Elections

Robert Reich / Robert Reich's Substack
The Trump-Bannon Plan to Take Over Elections Robert Reich. (photo: Getty Images)

We must protect democracy against this


I thought long and hard about sending you today’s newsletter because all of us are stressed enough about Putin’s war, new strains of the pandemic, and the latest consequences of climate change. But several of you responded to yesterday’s letter by wanting more information about how Trump and his co-conspirators (Steven Bannon, Michael Flynn, and others) are laying the groundwork for what can only be described as an attempted coup in the 2024 presidential election.

So I felt I had to share this with you.

Their plan is to take over the machinery of our democracy from the ground up by electing Trump loyalists in this coming fall’s midterms — so that in the 2024 presidential election only Trump loyalists will be certifying elections. As Bannon said: “We’re taking over all the elections.”

Remember, Trump ultimately failed to overturn the 2020 election because a few election officials — secretaries of state in particular — rightfully certified the results despite heavy pressure from him and his enablers to overturn them. In 37 states, the secretaries of state are the chief elections officers. That means they oversee elections and voter registration. In 2020, they held the United States’ rickety democracy together by certifying Joe Biden’s win.

But what happens if secretaries of state won’t protect democracy? In most states, secretaries of state are elected. And it’s precisely those elections that Trump and Bannon are targeting, especially in key swing states. For example:

Trump’s choice for Georgia’s Secretary of State is Jody Hice, who voted against certifying the 2020 election in the Georgia House.

His choice for Michigan’s Secretary of State is Kristina Karamo, who falsely claimed to have witnessed election fraud.

His choice for Arizona’s Secretary of State is Mark Finchem, a QAnon-supporting member of the Oath Keepers militia who participated in the January 6 insurrection.

At least 20 other candidates now running for secretary of state around the nation do not believe in the legitimacy of the 2020 election. In addition, thousands of others who have taken up Bannon's call have signed up to be local elections officials and poll workers. These positions are the last lines of defense in a democracy.

We’ve seen what happens when secretaries of state put partisan interests ahead of election integrity. In 2018, Brian Kemp ran Georgia elections as its secretary of state — while he was running for governor against Stacey Abrams. During his tenure, Kemp oversaw the purging of almost 1 and a half million voter registrations and the closing of more than 200 polling places. In the weeks leading up to the election, he put more than 50,000 voter registrations on hold, 70% of which belonged to Black people. He won by 55,000 votes.

And remember back in the 2000 presidential election, when Al Gore won the popular vote? Nonetheless, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who had been co-chair of George W Bush’s statewide campaign, ended up calling Florida for Bush, which handed him the election.

Trump and Bannon’s goal is to replicate these abuses across America and put into power next fall Trump loyalists who care more about electing Trump in 2024 than in upholding democracy.

What can we do about this? In 2020, millions of people organized, volunteered, and voted to keep American democracy alive. In coming months, we must work to elect public servants who will uphold democracy and stand up to those who are hellbent on undermining it.

So please:

Make sure your friends and family know what the stakes are this fall. (For starters, you might take a look at the video that I’ve pasted below, which I and my colleagues at Inequality Media are releasing today — and share it as widely as possible.)

Next, get information about who is running for secretary of state in your state and for local election positions in your locale. If you have reason to believe they’re more dedicated to Trump’s reelection than to democracy, spread the word.

Third, get involved directly. Volunteer to be a poll worker or local election official. Every position matters.

Many thanks.


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