Photo by Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder, States Newsroom.
Ohio’s upcoming elections are flush with Republicans who denied the reality of the last one.
In races for Congress, statewide offices, and seats in the state legislature, Republicans up and down the ballot have alleged voter fraud in 2020. In some cases, they baselessly claimed the scale of the fraud was enough to tip the scale for President Joe Biden to win over predecessor Donald Trump in 2020.
Various post-election audits and other investigations have found only extremely rare instances of voter fraud that comprise small fractions of one percent of the total electorate. There’s no evidence of voter fraud anywhere near sufficient enough to have swayed the outcome of any state’s results. Regardless, conservative politicians have used their social media accounts and media profiles to continue to sow doubt and air unsubstantiated and often debunked theories of how the 2020 election was stolen.
Five Ohio Republicans in Congress — Steve Chabot, Warren Davidson, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, and Jim Jordan — voted to object to the certification of at least one state. They cast their votes after hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump mobbed and ransacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, assaulting police officers and desecrating the seat of government.
Jordan, Gibbs, and Johnson, plus Reps. Bob Latta and Brad Wenstrup also signed onto a lawsuit alleging “unconstitutional irregularities involved in the 2020 presidential election” in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. The filing describes the election as having been “riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities.”
In the state House, meanwhile, 42 GOP lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Dave Yost alleging similar “irregularities in the vote count, unexplained statistical anomalies, as well as grave allegations of irregularities and misconduct” in four swing states.
Here’s a look back on what the elected officials and candidates have said about the 2020 election.
U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance
“There were certainly people voting illegally on a large-scale basis,” Vance said to the Youngstown Vindicator in October 2021.
Earlier this year, Vance answered in the affirmative when asked if he thought the election was stolen.
“I mean, look, I think the fundamental problem is we had a massive effort to shift the election by very powerful people in this country,” he told Spectrum News in January 2022. “I don’t care whether you say it’s rigged, whether you say it’s stolen, like I’ll say what I’m going to say about it.”
However, in comments in a recent Columbus Dispatch interview and public debate, he has downplayed his claims of outright fraud and said his issue is that the technology industry wields too much influence over elections.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose
As Ohio’s Secretary of State, LaRose has generally stopped short of making an outright declaration of a stolen election while hyping the infinitesimally rare rates of voter fraud.
“Here they go again. Mainstream media trying to minimize voter fraud to suit their narrative,'” LaRose wrote on Twitter in February 2022, sharing a media report.
“The Hill uses a press release from my office to falsely claim ‘there’s nothing to see here – move along.’ WRONG! The alleged voter fraud uncovered by my office and referred for prosecution this week is ONLY THE BEGINNING. This is one of MANY investigations.”
Congressman Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan began issuing statements on social media hinting at or outright declaring that the election was stolen shortly after Election Day, according to a compilation of dozens of Jordan’s statements over several months on the subject from Just Security, a national security analysis outlet.
He attended a “stop the steal” rally in Pennsylvania; falsely claimed that dead people voted in some states; claimed some “missing memory cards” with votes on them were found in Georgia; called for an investigation of “allegations of actual election error and misconduct;” claimed “anomalies” were found in Dominion Voting Systems machines; forwarded White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows a legal theory holding that the vice president can reject the certification of Biden’s election; and others.
This occurred as Jordan helped lead a congressional effort to object to states’ certification of Biden’s win.
On Jan. 5, 2021, Jordan told Fox News that there was “fraud on top of the unconstitutional way they ran the election,” referring to states changing election laws without state legislatures to cater to voting during the pandemic.
“Once they got that done, then they added fraud on top of it,” he said. “And that’s why President Trump wasn’t elected president.”
Congressman Brad Wenstrup
In December, Wenstrup said to Spectrum News that Americans should be free from the election “uncertainties that have been so evident in 2020.”
He signed onto the lawsuit challenging the election results but declined to object to the certification of the election on Jan. 6, 2021. He continued to hint at the existence of voter fraud regardless in a statement after the attack.
“I believe there remain constitutional concerns and actual violations regarding election administration,” he said. “Understandably, many Americans across the political spectrum have concerns about its fairness and accuracy”
Congressman Steve Chabot
In December 2020, Chabot told Spectrum News that Trump has “every right to exhaust his legal remedies, which he’s doing at this point.”
In a statement hours before the attacks on Jan. 6, 2021, he alleged voter fraud but said he was undecided on whether he’d object to certification, which he later did.
“Where do I stand on this? I do believe that there was fraud and irregularities in a number of states. Whether it was enough to make the difference in the election, I don’t know,” he said. “And since it’s been my experience in life that I learn a lot more by listening than by talking, I am reserving my judgment on how I’ll ultimately vote until I’ve studied all the available evidence, heard from my constituents on both sides of the issue, and listened closely to the debate on the floor today. Then I’ll decide.”
Congressman Bill Johnson
In December 2020, Johnson told Spectrum News that while Biden is technically president, “the 2020 election was tainted with credible allegations of voter fraud, irregularities, and media bias at a level not seen in the modern era.”
Returning to the Capitol after law enforcement extricated the rioters, Johnson objected to the electoral certification, alleging election impropriety.
“I will support objections to the certification of the Electoral College vote of Pennsylvania, and possibly other states on grounds that they: potentially violated the U.S. Constitution; disregarded their own state election laws; and/or failed to count all legal ballots,” he said to this outlet. “The Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media hide behind bullying, spin, and carefully crafted talking points to distract from this fact. But most of the people I represent know the truth— that between the news media acting as the public relations department of the Democrat party, Big Tech’s big thumb on the social media and search results scales, and credible allegations of election fraud in some states, many believe the 2020 election wasn’t fair.”
Congressman Bob Gibbs
In December 2020, Gibbs told Spectrum News he didn’t think the election was over and no one should concede. By the time of a Jan. 5, 2021 interview with 1480 WHBC talk radio, he went further.
“We’re seeing in a handful of states there was fraud,” he said. “Everybody agrees there’s always some election fraud … There’s definitely some fraud out there. Fraud of a higher magnitude than we’ve ever seen.”
Congressman Warren Davidson
In a press conference on Dec. 3, 2020, Davidson joined with other GOP congressmen to allege voter fraud.
“There are concerns and sworn statements of fraudulent activity, criminal activity, in this election, and they deserve to be investigated,” he said.
“The Investigation is incredibly consequential because it could change the outcome of the election. For the American people, they deserve to know whether he fraud that happened will change the outcome or won’t.”
Congressman Bob Latta
In an interview with conservative podcaster Andy Hooser in November 2020, Latta said Trump has a right to allege voter fraud in court. He said the Democrats prematurely declared victory after preliminary counts had Biden winning the electoral college.
One month later, he suggested fraudulent ballots helped buoy Biden.
“One of the things that is really important is the American people have got to say, wait a minute, how do you open up a desk drawer and find ballots. It’s just, it’s crazy,” he said.
“I think there are a lot of things that Americans want answers to, and so it’s not one of these things where they can just say, we’re going to push these things under a carpet.”
A spokeswoman for Latta noted that after Trump exhausted his legal appeals, Latta opted to certify Biden’s 2020 win.
Congressional candidate Max Miller
In a September interview with Cleveland.com, Miller affirmed that Biden is the president, but still suggested impropriety in 2020.
“I think there were a lot of irregularities within the election that need to be looked into immediately to give the American people the confidence that they know when they cast a vote that it counts,” he said.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena compelling him to produce documents and testify to the committee. According to claims in the subpoena, Miller helped to secure a permit for a stage at the “stop the steal” rally. He was also allegedly present for a meeting with Trump about the rally two days before it occurred.
Miller has previously accused the committee of selectively editing snippets of his private deposition that were shared in a public hearing. He declined to comment on the committee’s allegations.
Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, congressional candidate
“Where exactly do they pull ballots out of suitcases under a table in the middle of the night?” she wrote on Facebook on Dec. 4, 2020.
She warned of what a country “without integrity” would look like and called on everyone to stand together against “voter fraud, suppression and irregularities.” In December 2018, she posted a video message on her social media page complaining that “Republicans continue to turn their back on the election integrity fight and on President Trump.”
At noon on Jan. 6, 2021, about two hours before rioters forcefully broke into the U.S. Capitol, Gilbert said on Twitter that Trump “accurately pointed out the immense number of people on the ground to support our president and election integrity.”
President Trump accurately pointed out the immense number of people on the ground to support our President and election integrity! I’m receiving photos from DC showing huge crowds on the ground today! Wow!
— Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (@madisongesiotto) January 6, 2021
In a statement, Gilbert said she never questioned Ohio’s election results, given LaRose’s leadership.
“Election integrity is fundamental to a functioning democracy,” she said. “I believe we must strengthen our voter integrity laws to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. In Congress, I will work to ensure all federal agencies have the funding and resources they need to combat foreign interference and voter fraud.”
J.R. Majewski, congressional candidate
Majewski reportedly attended the “stop the steal” rally outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
He also flirted with allegations of election fraud in a newspaper interview, saying it was purported legitimacy issues with the 2022 election prompted him to run.
“Watching the election get stolen, I think … I don’t want to say stolen,” he said to The Toledo Blade in April 2021. “There were definitely things that happened that caused speculation, and where there’s smoke there’s fire,” he said. “I won’t sit here today and say that I have factual evidence that Joe Biden didn’t beat President Trump in a fair election. I can’t say that. What I can say is there were enough things that caused concern or areas of question to the point that we should have been a little bit more intrusive from an auditing perspective.”
A Majewski spokeswoman didn’t answer whether Majewski stands by these comments and instead accused a reporter of “covering up antisemitism and sexism” from his rival.
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