A disturbing number of Republican lawmakers have embraced former President Donald Trump's nonsense claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him by Democrats. While Trump is under the delusion that Democratic heavy-hitters conspired with election software companies and foreign adversaries to deliver the party a victory, other Republicans have scrambled to target absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes as election vulnerabilities.
Among these Republicans is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has repeatedly sought to undermine public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections by promoting statistically insignificant instances of election fraud.
Less than a month after election lies led to the January 6 insurrection, Paul misleadingly claimed that “In Wisconsin, tens of thousands of absentee votes had only the name on them and no address. Historically those were thrown out, this time they weren’t.” In reality, this policy was put in place by Republicans and enacted before the 2016 election, which Trump won. Shortly after Biden took office, Paul refused to acknowledge Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.
And on Monday, Paul posted a tweet laying out how to "steal" an election.
How to steal an election: “Seeding an area heavy with potential Democratic votes with as many absentee ballots as possible, targeting and convincing potential voters to complete them in a legally valid way, and then harvesting and counting the results.”https://t.co/LwE3MdeWeG
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 27, 2021
Despite Paul's deliberate use of buzzwords like "seeding," "targeting," and "harvesting," none of the efforts he described were actually illegal. They merely resulted in more people casting legally valid votes.
An article Paul linked from the American Conservative described a "shadow campaign" by nonpartisan entities to turn Wisconsin blue through expanded accessibility to mail-in ballots, increased voter education initiatives, and the recruitment of more election workers.
...none of which is illegal.
Paul made clear what he believes amounts to "stealing" an election.
This is, I guess, at least honest about the fact that they think the wrong people voting is what counts as stealing an election. https://t.co/yIKod2aj4d
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) December 27, 2021
This sounds like a bit, but it's quite the window into the conservative mind to say that 'convincing' people to legally complete a ballot & increasing turnout is election theft. https://t.co/D82VmcA0iL
— Taniel (@Taniel) December 28, 2021
To paraphrase, encouraging voters to vote “in a legally valid way” is now being defined as “how to steal an election.” 🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/AQYnzxsNp2
— Michael Li 李之樸 (@mcpli) December 27, 2021
Getting voters to vote is now bad, per US Senator https://t.co/PfjiABaLKV
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) December 27, 2021
You know you have good ideas when the idea of more people voting is terrifying https://t.co/fvYC42KIeC
— Brendan Karet (@bad_takes) December 28, 2021
They really believe it's a scandal to help legal voters who might oppose them to participate in democracy. https://t.co/B5u4waAHgY
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) December 27, 2021
People soon began making comparisons.
How to rob a grocery store: Pick out the items you desire, bring them to a clerk in the front, and pay the listed price for them. https://t.co/sqVpMPVfVm
— Seth Masket (@smotus) December 27, 2021
How to steal an A in a course: Attend every class, pay attention and take notes, complete all assignments and go to office hours to go over material and clarify questions about it, and rock the final exam.
Am I doing this right? If so I want to hear more ways to steal stuff https://t.co/zsqkDqpkAj
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) December 28, 2021
this is like the time i stole a TV by ordering it online, going to best buy, showing my purchase receipt, receiving it and bringing it home https://t.co/qTmtt24XoC
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) December 27, 2021
Despite no validation of the right's claims that widespread fraud occurred, multiple Republican state legislatures have passed or proposed stricter voting laws designed to limit voter participation.