GOP officials and right-wing pundits are laying the groundwork for more false claims about election integrity.
Before the ballots have even been counted, GOP officials and conservative media pundits have already started claiming that if Republicans in Virginia lose in Tuesday's statewide elections, it will be due to widespread "voter fraud." These assertions have no basis in fact.
In a Fox News appearance Monday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed without evidence that Democrats would "steal" the Virginia gubernatorial election if it's close between Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee, and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee.
"First of all, if it's really tight they'll steal it, so you can't afford to have a really tight election," Gingrich told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday. "You have to win by a big enough margin they can't steal it."
In recent days, GOP state Sen. Amanda Chase, who has acted as a right-wing "surrogate" for Youngkin's campaign, has also been pushing false information about "voter fraud." In multiple Facebook comments, Chase said Democrats were "cheating" and falsely claimed that voting machines in Virginia were rigged.
"I know how their [sic] cheating," Chase wrote in a Facebook comment on Oct. 29. "We know. Watching closely. Vote biggly [sic] on Tuesday."
Chase also baselessly claimed that Democrats in Virginia were conspiring to steal the election in an interview with John Fredericks, a local right-wing radio host.
"They're moving, in cyberland, they are switching inactive voters to active voters, all in the same week. It's undetectable," Chase said without evidence. "I know what they're doing, John, and now the Youngkin campaign has all that information and they're not going to get by on us this year, I'm telling you."
It was an accusation so wild that even Youngkin — who has been cagey about whether he believes the 2020 election was valid — dismissed it.
Last month, Fox News host Mark Levin claimed that McAuliffe was preparing to steal the election by hiring Marc Elias, a voting rights attorney who has successfully challenged voter suppression laws and GOP gerrymandering.
The claims of conspiracies to steal the elections echo former President Donald Trump's claim that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from him. Countless official reviews have found such claims to be completely false. But that hasn't stopped Trump and his allies in the Republican Party from pushing meritless "audits" of the voting in a desperate bid to reverse the 2020 election results.
In September, Trump himself started laying the groundwork to cry fraud in the case of a Youngkin loss.
"You know how they cheat in elections. The Virginia governor's election, you better watch it," Trump told Fredericks, the Virginia radio host. "You have a close race in Virginia, but it's not close if they cheat."
Polls show the Virginia governor's race will likely be very close. While McAuliffe led in the polls for much of the race, Youngkin has closed the gap in recent weeks. FiveThirtyEight's polling average showed a statistical tie between the two candidates heading into Election Day.
Republicans are depending on their base to turn out in force for Youngkin on Tuesday, especially in rural districts. While Trump lost Virginia with 44% of the vote in 2020, he won 70% of the vote in the 9th Congressional District, a rural GOP stronghold in the southwest corner of the state. But this year, the "Fighting Ninth" had the fewest in-person early votes and absentee ballots cast in the state, Politico reported.
More than 1 million voters have already cast their ballots in the statewide election, with more Democrats than Republicans voting early or absentee, according to data from the polling firm TargetSmart. The polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.