Trump’s false election claims in focus in Va. governor race

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Republican Glenn Youngkin hasn’t talked much about the 2020 election, with President Donald Trump lying about fraud and rebellion on Jan. But when they have, it hasn’t gone smoothly.

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The GOP’s candidate for governor of Virginia argued this week that the state’s voting machines should be regularly audited, suggesting the process would ensure “everyone can trust.” What was left untold was that the machines already undergo annual audits.

The remarks came after a recent interview in which Youngkin did not directly say whether he would have voted to testify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory had he been in Congress. He later followed up to say that he would have.


Ambiguous answers and explanations underline Youngkin’s dilemma when it comes to talking about last year’s election. False claims and misinformation about consequences are so widely perceived by Republican voters that disputing the lie can be politically risky. For months, while running for his party’s nomination, Youngkin declined to say whether Biden was legitimately elected.

Now, in a general election, seeking votes in a tight race in left-leaning Virginia, Youngkin has tried to resist being branded as electoral denial or linking Democrats to Trump’s false claims.

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The former president hasn’t made it easy. His Political Action Committee sent out an email late Wednesday that highlighted a story about Youngkin’s comments, which read: “ICYMI: ‘Youngkin Calls for Audits of Voting Machines in Virginia.'”

Trump is prompting Republicans on the battlefield to “audit” the results. He is unfazed by the fact that the most high-profile test – a partisan review of ballots in Arizona’s largest county – turned up no evidence that the election had been stolen.

Democrats seized on the emailed comments as a sign that the two men were forming an alliance.

“Last night’s endorsement marks the fifth time Donald Trump has publicly endorsed Glenn Youngkin,” Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Sweker told reporters Thursday. “Glenn simply can’t get enough and he holds onto Donald Trump’s baseless election conspiracy theories, which destroy our democratic processes and lead, as we have all seen, to violence.”

Youngkin’s rival, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, immediately released an ad centered on Youngkin’s remarks, which overlaid the Republican audio with shaky video footage of the January 6 uprising in the US Capitol.

“Glenn Youngkin’s priorities are clear: He is running for governor to bring Donald Trump’s dangerous conspiracy theories to Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

The remarks from Youngkin, a businessman and first-time political candidate, came Monday when he was speaking to the Richmond Crusade for Voters, a historically black voting rights group.

Asked whether he would sign legislation restricting voting rights, Youngkin responded by saying he wanted to restore confidence in the election process. He proposed removing the election department from the purview of the governor’s office and making it “independent”, reinstating the requirement of voter ID and ensuring “updating the voter list”.

“I think we need to make sure people trust these voting machines. And I just think… I grew up in a world where every year you have an audit, businesses have your audit So let’s audit the voting machines, publish it so everyone can see it. And I think when we go forward with that we’re going to make everyone comfortable that we actually have a There is an election system that everyone can rely on.”

Virginia already conducts annual audits of ballot-scanner machines after its election, and results after last year’s election confirmed that the winner was accurately depicted.

McAuliffe approved a bill in 2017 that outlined procedures for existing audits, and his campaign said Thursday that he still supports the law.

Asked Thursday for additional comment about his remarks, Youngkin spokesman Matt Walking stressed that Youngkin has been calling for an audit since February and that if he is elected “he will make sure Virginia goes ahead.” Also continue to do audits and they are completely efficient and accurate.”

Youngkin centralized “electoral integrity” at the start of his campaign. In February, when asked by The Washington Post whether Biden was legitimately elected, he declined to say.

But since winning the nomination in May, Youngkin has embraced Biden’s victory and focused mostly on other issues.

“I’ve said over and over again that Joe Biden is our president,” Youngkin said during his first debate against McAuliffe. “I wish he hadn’t.”

In the second debate, he stated that “there was no material fraud” and that “the election was certifiably fair.”

Although he has not completely abandoned the subject. In August, he spoke at an “electoral integrity” rally at Liberty University, a conservative, Christian campus that is a popular campaign site for GOP candidates. Earlier in the summer, he failed to refute a conspiracy theory, captured on audio by an attendee during a campaign event and first reported by the Huffington Post.

Attendees suggested that Trump might be reinstated in office, with Youngkin responding: “I don’t know the details of how this could happen, because what is happening in the court system is slowly progressing.” And it is not clear. And we all know that courts move slowly.”

Biden was certified as the winner and administered the oath of office in January. There is no court case pending that would reverse the outcome.

Youngkin has also drawn criticism for welcoming the support of State Sen. Amanda Chase, who has adopted electoral conspiracy theories in her campaign programs. And two weeks ago, he did not respond directly when an Axios reporter asked if he would have voted to certify the 2020 election had he been in Congress.

A day later he…


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