What came to be known as “the big lie” – the false and long-debunked claim that Donald Trump stole the 2020 elections – was originally aimed at installing Trump in office for another term. However, ex-Vice President Mike Pence’s comment on House Resolution 1 shows how he will live on through the Republicans’ efforts to use it to suppress voters.
Less than two months after a riot in which Capitol rioters sang “Hang Mike Pence,” the former Vice President reappeared Wednesday with a statement for the Heritage Foundation that continues to spread the same lies about electoral fraud that inspired Trump supporters to bully the Capitol in the first place.
Pence is not arguing that Trump deserves another term, but his goal is political. He uses unsubstantiated hints that the 2020 election was stolen as an argument against HR 1. This legislation, which was passed in a poll in the party line house on Wednesday, includes “the creation of a national system for automatic voter registration that sets transparency requirements for political advertising and the establishment of impartial redistribution commissions to end party-political wandering, ”reports my colleague Ella Nilsen.
In short, it will make it easier to vote in states where Republicans have purposely made it challenging. And Pence thinks it’s bad.
The former Vice President stuffs two Whoppers into the first sentence of his play.
“Following an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous cases of officials overturning state electoral law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election,” began Pence.
According to state election officials and the former president’s own security chief, there were no “significant voting irregularities” in the 2020 elections. Unsurprisingly, Pence does not provide any evidence beyond people’s “concerns”. What he doesn’t mention, however, is that these concerns are the result of lies he and other people in Trump’s orbit pushed for months that Joe Biden’s victory was somehow compromised by fraud.
It is also not the case that there were “numerous cases in which civil servants overruled the law on state elections”. When Trump’s attorneys attempted to use this case in their 2020 election legal challenges, their arguments were dismissed from court to court, including by judges Trump appointed.
So Pence’s arguments are extremely weak. But they’re also dangerous. He’s still suggesting Trump supporters that Trump’s presidency was stolen. And Pence of all people should understand what the consequences of this lie could be, as he was targeted by Trump supporters and had to be expelled from the US Senate to protect him from those supporters after he refused to give his then overthrow -boss electoral college loss.
Pence may not be in Trump’s good hands, but he’s still a party guy
Trump’s most ardent supporters turned to Pence for rejecting Trump’s requests to overturn the election. Pence was berated by Trump himself on Jan. 6, including in a tweet Trump released when the Capitol was attacked.
Pence does not mention Trump in his statement, and Trump did not mention him during the long speech he gave at the Conservative Political Action Conference last Sunday. However, Pence clearly remains invested in Republicans who win elections.
HR 1 would make it much easier for people to vote, so it doesn’t bode well for Republicans in states like Wisconsin, Texas, and Georgia, where voter suppression has been used to anchor GOP power.
But the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where there are 50 Democratic Senators but 60 votes are needed to pass it. Pence is aware of this and concluded that “electoral reform must be carried out at the state level”. He nods at the type of voter ID guidelines that have long been favored by the GOP:
To restore public confidence in our elections, our leaders should uphold the Constitution, oppose the Democrats’ plan to nationalize our elections, and devote themselves to serious work on state reforms that will protect the integrity of the vote for every American.
The American people expect us to make sure that every eligible citizen can vote and that their vote is not stolen or watered down by mistakes, errors, or downright fraud.
Republican arguments for electoral identification or restrictions on when and how ballots can be cast have always been weak, as study after study has shown that the type of electoral fraud they seek to root out is extremely rare. But Pence’s attempt to use the big lie as an argument for oppression takes cynicism to a new level.
Pence’s position comes from the fact that GOP lawmakers in states like Georgia and Iowa are already using false claims about the 2020 election to justify renewed efforts to make voting more difficult.
“Most of us in my caucus and the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen,” said US Senate nominee and Senator from Iowa, Jim Carlin, during a recent debate on a proposal that would be timely and Shorten absent votes and polling stations could close earlier Election Day.
Suffice it to say that facts do not support this.
It is noteworthy that at a time when National Guard forces are still stationed at the Capitol – house business was even canceled on Wednesday due to a security threat – Pence did not call for Trump supporters to back off and stop the threats and finish the act.
Instead, his new comment fuels the same abuses that started the violence and unrest – false suspicions that Trump’s loss to Biden was illegitimate and that if Republicans don’t make the vote difficult, the Democrats will cheat again.
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