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California recalls conspiracy theories, Trump fraud allegations, more

California voters went to the polls on Tuesday to determine whether to keep Governor Gavin Newsom in power. But weeks earlier, some right-wing activists – along with leading GOP candidate Larry Elder – began to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.

In some ways, these measures are an extension of conspiracy theories and false claims that began when Donald Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden.

Polls have shown that the recall effort is struggling. Still, many expect legal challenges during the vote.

Based on reports from The Times, here’s a breakdown of what we know:

Fraud claims

Some Republicans began to prepare the ground to contest the election if Newsom retained his post.

Elder has repeatedly refused to answer whether he would accept the election results if the recall effort fails. He recently added a section to his campaign website called “Stop Fraud” for voters to report any irregularities.

“I plan to win. So there won’t be any questions about the results because I’m going to win, ”Elder said in a San Pedro park Monday afternoon.

Former President Trump made a statement on Monday, alluding to the 2020 presidential election, which he continued to falsely paint as having been stolen from him: “Does anyone really believe that the recall election in California is not rigged?

In recent weeks, videos have surfaced claiming to show hundreds of ballots stolen from mailboxes. Facebook forums are teeming with worried posts about holes in ballot envelopes that scammers say could be used to find pro-recall votes – but which actually serve a dual purpose: to let blind people know. where the signature line is and give election workers a way to make sure the envelope is empty before throwing it away.

Election observers with an agenda

Election monitoring campaigns are also running at full speed, recalling suspicions and accusations that hung over the November presidential race as observers gather what they say is fodder for future court challenges and political campaigns.

“In some cases, election leaders push back, refute false rumors they might have ignored in the past, or end voter signing challenges they believe have been abused – marking new battle lines in the the country’s political disinformation war, ”The Times’ Paige St John reported last week.

Statewide, nearly half a dozen Californian groups are currently carrying out electoral fraud campaigns, although poll watchers from four counties – Orange, San Diego, Fresno and San Luis Obispo – show that vote-watchers come almost exclusively from one organization: the Election Integrity Project. .

The organization, which grew out of the Tea Party movement, says it has trained some 4,000 observers to monitor the recall, including 300 in Los Angeles County, although reports suggest the number of observers showing up to ‘now is only a fraction of that.

Still, some clerks fear that the group’s claims about problems with mail-in ballots will discourage people from voting and undermine confidence in the electoral process.

Effects of unfounded claims

Experts in politics and extremism warn that unsubstantiated fraud allegations, which last for months or even years after the vote is certified, threaten to undermine confidence in elections and could spark violence, such as during the insurgency from the Capitol on January 6.

Thad Kousser, co-director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at UC San Diego, told Anita Chabria and Maura Dolan of The Times that pressure continues from some conservatives to claim that electoral fraud even before the results are known is “The most damaging trend. we have seen in our democracy.

He said he feared that a tight vote count, or a “nightmarish scenario” of belatedly counted ballots reversing victory to Newsom, could become dangerous. “The miracle of US policy is that we have managed to keep these fights going mainly in rallies, elections and debates on the ground,” he said. “The worry is always that they will turn into violence. “

The law of recall

Lawyers wondered whether the recall election could be deemed unconstitutional if Newsom failed to secure a majority “without recall” of the votes cast and was ousted by a candidate who received fewer votes than him.

While it’s impossible to predict how the courts will rule, many experts say the current recall process has long survived legal challenges and likely would do so again, even if a marginal candidate wins and becomes governor with a minority of votes. global. This view is based on court rulings on electoral law, particularly rulings stemming from the revocation of the election of Governor Gray Davis, when voters impeached Davis in 2003 and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a popular actor who was later re-elected.

In this case, more people voted for Schwarzenegger than for Davis, so the candidate with the most votes won. Even so, California’s recall program allows a candidate with fewer votes to prevail over an incumbent, as demonstrated by the last successful state recall of an elected lawmaker.

More reading:

“Collecting the ballots” is a controversial subject that neither side wants to talk about

Election fraud conspiracy theories are on the rise

Growing Concerns Over Right-Wing “Poll Watchers”

Legal issues surrounding California recall leave little room for debate

Will your written vote count?

The Forever Campaign in California

Electoral bases:

What you need to know about in-person voting

How to fill out your ballot

Where to vote – by mail, drop box or in person

How to vote by post

How to tell if your mail-in ballot has been counted