Christian nationalists went into November’s midterm elections feeling optimistic. President Joe Biden’s approval ratings were low, inflation remained stubbornly high and polls showed several tight races. Historically, that’s a pattern that should have resulted in the Republicans shellacking the Democrats.
But the voters had other ideas. Democrats held the U.S. Senate, and the GOP took the House of Representatives by a thin margin.
Additionally, candidates who parroted religious extremism failed in many states. Among them was Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano, perhaps the most prominent Christian nationalist on the ballot this year. He was soundly defeated by Democrat Josh Shapiro by nearly 15 points.
Enter the Election Deniers
How are Mastriano’s supporters dealing with that? Not very well. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that “election denial groups are flooding Pennsylvania courts with petitions seeking to force hand recounts under a little-known provision of state election law.”
The provision in question allows three voters from a given precinct to file a petition in a county court if they believe “fraud or error” occurred. By paying a $50 fee, they can request a recount.
The law can be useful in cases of tight races where a recount might actually change the results. That’s not going to happen in Mastriano’s case. Shapiro beat him by more than 780,000 votes.
Nevertheless, election deniers have filed more than 100 petitions in 12 Pennsylvania counties, and at least 17 other counties have been targeted, The Inquirer reported.
The Real Motive
Local election officials are exasperated by the thought that they might have to do costly, time-consuming hand recounts in a race that was a blowout – a race that, by the way, Mastriano has conceded.
One anonymous county elections director called the scheme a “merry-go-round of nonsense.” Others have speculated that the deniers’ true motive is to undermine the public’s faith in elections or simply harass the people who work to keep our elections secure.
We saw this behavior in 2020, spearheaded by former President Donald Trump, and we know what his lies of a stolen election led to – Jan. 6, 2021.
A few Pennsylvania courts have already dismissed these spurious claims. Let’s hope that trend continues. And state legislators might want to consider changing the law so that recounts can only be employed when they are needed to resolve a close election. They should never be wielded as an instrument of harassment by deluded, anti-democracy extremists who can’t accept the fact that their candidate lost.