Since 2020, election denial — claims that the process or result of the last presidential election was illegitimate — has become prominent in American politics. Increasingly, it is a highly visible issue in races for election administration positions. Many elected officials, from county or town clerk or supervisor to statewide officials like governor or secretary of state, play a role in deciding how people vote, how ballots are counted, and how results are certified. Candidates for these offices are making their claims about the legitimacy of the last election central to their case that the voters should choose them to run the next.
Even as some campaigns claim widespread fraud in the 2020 election, others defend the vote as secure and accurate and raise alarms about the dangers of proponents of the Big Lie running future elections. Both sides implicitly or explicitly argue that control of election administration decided in 2022 will determine the future and survival of American democracy.
In all six of the battleground states with secretary of state elections in 2022, there is at least one candidate who has questioned the legitimacy of the last presidential election. The same stance is espoused by gubernatorial or local candidates in almost all the 10 likely battleground states we are studying.
In a related series, we are tracking the financing of contests for election administration positions in battleground states.
Here we collect statements, ads, and the like that indicate each of these candidates is making election denial an issue in their campaign, including those running in opposition to election denial. We focus on the states with the closest margins in the 2020 presidential election: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin (North Carolina does not have races for election officials in 2022). We are tracking contests for governor, secretary of state, as well as local election officials in key jurisdictions.