Scaring people about supposed election fraud isn’t a great strategy for motivating them to vote, as Donald Trump and his allies discovered after Democrats flipped the state of Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election and then went on to win a pair of Senate runoff elections there.
Trump’s repeated lies about voter fraud actually dampened turnout in Republican areas of Georgia, GOP officials acknowledged, helping to cost his party not only the White House but control of the U.S. Senate.
Now, some Republican Senate contenders are seeking to avoid that calamity in their races by absurdly claiming that only urban Democratic areas experience voter fraud, whereas rural GOP counties are perfectly safe from it.
“Our concern is Milwaukee. …This is one of these big Democrat strongholds that just can’t seem to get their votes counted until they know exactly how many votes they need,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said during a tele-town hall on Wednesday. “Whether anything’s happening or not, this just looks suspicious.”
The Wisconsin Republican, who is up for reelection this year, then praised election administrators in rural areas of the state, including in his hometown of Oshkosh, according to Heartland Signal.
Milwaukee is the most diverse city in Wisconsin, and white voters are in the minority there. It’s also been a frequent target of Trump and his allies, who have sown distrust in elections with their lies about voter fraud. Trump himself still falsely maintains he won Wisconsin in 2020.
In Nevada, GOP Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt, who recently served as the state’s attorney general, is running the same playbook.
During events on the campaign trail, Laxalt has sought to reassure supporters that their votes will count this year even as he has railed about election insecurity and made bogus claims of voter fraud.
“The votes are being counted in Elko County. These elections here are legitimate,” Laxalt said at an event in Republican-heavy Elko County recently, according to audio obtained by NBC News.
“Clark County? We got major problems down there. And we’ve got to fight that,” he added, referring to the state’s most populous and heavily Democratic county, which includes Las Vegas.
“I do think votes count here. I do think votes count in at least 15 counties,” Laxalt said at another event, according to the audiotape. “Washoe County can be a little squirrelly.”
The Twitter account of Washoe County, the second-most populous area of the state, responded: “We’re working our tails off and we have our squirrels in a row to run an accessible, fair, transparent election. Every vote counts.”
The Nevada Democratic Party, meanwhile, denounced Laxalt’s remarks in a statement, calling him “Trump’s top lackey” in Nevada and saying “there is truly no bottom for this cynical, failed politician.”