After realizing there is likely no realistic path to victory in the California gubernatorial recall election, conservative political operatives have appeared to embrace a familiar tactic of pushing the unproven allegations of voter fraud.
Hmmmm. Where have we seen that before?
In particular, there’s been an outcry from right-wing extremists drawing attention to a single report claiming that residents in the San Bernardino Valley were “being wrongly prevented from casting a ballot in the upcoming gubernatorial recall election,” as local outlet KLTA reported on Sunday.
The lone report absent from other local and national news outlets relies on one claim from an 88-year-old woman who told KTLA she is a Republican.
Estelle Bender said — without proof — that she and others attempting to cast a ballot at a polling place in the city of Woodland Hills were told they had already voted, according to KTLA. A poll worker told her that others had made the same claims. KTLA ran a segment on Bender and reported that she and an unspecified number of others were left with no other choice but to submit provisional ballots, which are cast when there is uncertainty about voting eligibility.
That same single segment was going viral on Monday, thanks in no small part to the aforementioned right-wing trolls, including the one and only Candace Owens, who has made no secret that she thinks Donald Trump lost the 2020 election because of Democratic-orchestrated voter fraud.
The ultra-conservative One America News Network (OAN) ran KTLA’s brief interview with Bender and used it as political propaganda to promote an unproven narrative that was shared by Owens, who tweeted — without proof, natch — that “about 20 emails” were sent to her Sunday night voicing the same complaints expressed in the clip.
“This needs to be investigated,” Owens tweeted. “It seems like the fix is in.”
It can’t be ignored that Owens also lied in a tweet promoting a false conspiracy theory championed by Tucker Carlson in July that “It has now been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris CHEATED in the 2020 election with mail-in ballots.”
Fox News on Sunday also ran what Media Matters called a “misleading story” about 300 mail-in ballots being stolen weeks ago. The truth of the matter is that the ballots were recovered and would not affect the election, a rep for the Los Angeles County clerk’s office told the San Jose Mercury last month.
Republican California Assemblyman James Gallagher tweeted that there needs to be an investigation into Bender’s claims at the polling place in the Valley.
“I’m not making any judgments at this time but this needs to be fully investigated and accounted for,” Gallagher tweeted Sunday night in response to KTLA’s story.
One Twitter user whose account is dedicated to Ashlii Babbitt, the white Capitol rioter who was shot to death on Jan. 6 by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, a Black officer who said she ignored his orders and tried to climb through a barricaded glass doors that rioters had smashed. A tweet from the account claimed — again, without proof, a running theme here — that three separate ballots for the recall election were mailed to her address, including two people who never lived there.
The implication was that Babbitt, who has been dead for more than eight months, is likely not the only deceased person this has happened to, a possibility that opens up suspicions of election fraud.
Up until now, conservatives have employed other methods to promote their preferred candidate of Larry Elder, a Black Republican who recently told Owens publicly that he believes slave owners were more eligible for reparations than the descendants of the actual slaves.
One of those methods was to play the race card.
That came after Elder’s appearance at a homeless encampment in Venice, where a hackler wearing a gorilla mask and riding a bicycle threw an egg at the upstart politician who rose to fame as a conservative talk show host. The egg missed. But because the woman is white and was wearing a gorilla mask, conservatives have embraced the idea of it being a racist “hate crime” attack since — using their logic — a gorilla mask was a racist comparison of Elder to a monkey.
After that tactic immediately fell flat and quickly lost steam, it seems that conservatives have fallen back on the old faithful approach of claiming election fraud; an approach that last time employed prompted a violent, white supremacist riot at the U.S. Capitol as Congress was attempting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leadership have appealed to Californians to vote “no” and rebuff the Republican-led attempt to replace him. If at least 50% of ballots are “no” votes, the recall effort will be unsuccessful and Newsom will remain governor until his full term expires next year.
Polling suggests that is exactly what will happen when ballots are tallied Tuesday night. A new poll released Monday shows that 60% of the votes already cast are not in favor of recalling Newsom.
Even more damning for Elder and Republicans is that data shows California’s voters are significantly less Republican than they were in 2003, the last and only time a gubernatorial recall election was successful and saw actor Arnold Schwartzenegger’s unlikely ascension from Hollywood to the governor’s office.
All of this likely explains this unfortunate and apparently very desperate last-ditch effort of crying voter fraud as Republicans are poised to lose a major election once again.
Early voting has been going on for weeks, with Tuesday as the official recall election day.