Are state election officials really promoting election integrity? (with 5/1 update)
The Associated Press critically looks at what WV’s Mac Warner and other pro-Trump secretaries of state are doing to the election process
This morning, the Associated Press published an article by Julie Carr Smyth that featured West Virginia’s Secretary of State, Mac Warner:
GOP election officials walking fine line on fraud, integrity
The article featured three state officials who are running for higher office who continue to question the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential elections: Ohio’s Frank LaRose, Missouri’s Jay Ashcroft, and West Virginia’s Mac Warner.
From that AP story:
Warner has defended Trump’s false claims of a fraudulent 2020 election and demonstrated alongside “Stop the Steal” protesters, while also promoting the integrity of West Virginia’s elections.
He said in a recent interview that he is working to strike a balance between those on the right who believe the 2020 election was stolen and those on the left who argue “there’s nothing to see here.”
“The truth is obviously somewhere in the middle,” he said, while adding: “I will admit Biden won the election, but did he do it legitimately? Or did that happen outside the election laws that legislatures in certain states had put in place? That’s where I balk and say no.”
Warner said he would like to see an “after-action review” of the 2020 election, like those conducted in the military, to ease citizens’ minds and make elections better.
Warner has yet to provide any proof for any of his assertions. (Sorry, Mac, the truth is not “obviously” in the middle and the existence of Hunter Biden (see post below) does not prove election fraud.) Nonetheless, most of West Virginia’s media continue to treat Warner as a trustworthy, non-partisan elected official.
What is Warner’s motivation for continuing to question the election results? Cynically (realistically?), it’s easy to point to the large number of Trump supporters in West Virginia. On the other hand, perhaps Warner is a true believer – someone who still questions the legitimacy of the last presidential election. Either way, he gets to preside over one of the state’s most bureaucratic offices, the Office of Secretary of State. In that role, Warner has clearly not been what he ought to be -- a non-partisan official working to ensure fair and impartial elections. Instead, he’s been a Republican activist trying to tilt the playing field. In addition to the absence of any evidence that the election was fraudulent, AP’s Smyth points out:
All three withdrew their states last month from the Electronic Registration Information Center, a bipartisan, multistate effort to ensure accurate voter lists. LaRose did so less than a month after calling the group “one of the best fraud-fighting tools that we have” and vowing to maintain Ohio’s membership. He defied backlash against the organization stoked by former President Donald Trump before relenting.
The three also have supported increased voter restrictions in their states — part of a national trend for Republicans that they say is intend to boost public confidence. Those bills impose new voter ID requirements, shrink windows for processing ballots or ease the ability to consolidate voting precincts.
(Note – I wrote about Warner’s withdrawal from ERIC here.)
A final thought
I realize that I write a great deal about Mac Warner and West Virginia voting. It is not accidental; I believe that voting rights are most critical to our future. To that end, what is happening here in West Virginia and elsewhere is a threat to our democracy -- more specifically, Mac Warner is clearly a partisan and his office needs to be watched. But by whom? As I noted in the previous post, the WV media, for the most part, give him a pass and in the case of Ogden, they even make room to praise him. This AP article, a New York Time article late last year, and a Mountain State Spotlight analysis last year are a start. We clearly need more coverage.
I was a bit surprised to see that the morning Intelligencer did carry the first 70% of the AP Republican secretaries of state story on page 3. Here is the first paragraph that was dropped:
Trump and others have criticized the expansion of mail voting in 2020 in the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is no evidence of any widespread fraud and multiple reviews in the battleground states where Trump contested his loss have upheld the results. The House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol found that Trump advisers and administration officials repeatedly debunked allegations of fraud in the weeks after the 2020 election, but Trump continued to push the lies, anyway.
That's an interesting and relevant omission. In this case, my hunch is that this was most likely dropped by the Sunday page editor because of a limited amount of space. Space constraints are not always important to that editor, however. Local readers might want to check pages 7 and 8 where the exact same story and picture appears on both pages:
Residents Skeptical of EPA Air Data