For years, Republicans have cried voter fraud, with few substantive examples. But, of late, there have been a few—from Republican politicians themselves. This week brings yet another one: Matt Mowers, a Republican candidate for Congress in New Hampshire, who voted twice in the 2016 presidential primaries, according to an Associated Press report yesterday. Mowers reportedly first voted in New Hampshire for Chris Christie, when he was a staffer for the former New Jersey governor. After Christie dropped out, he voted in New Jersey for Donald Trump.
This has two issues to it.
The main one is that you can’t do that. Mowers, like everyone else, is allowed to vote only once in elections. That’s based on federal law and the logic of democracy. The other is that Mowers—as a former State Department official under President Trump and a candidate in the 2022 midterm elections—has himself made calls to crack down on voter fraud and to implement new voting rules that amount to what my colleague Ari Berman has called “the coming coup.”
In this way, Mowers joins, most notably, Mark Meadows in an odd hypocrisy: members of the party calling the 2020 election stolen who might have done some voter fraud themselves.
Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, reportedly registered to vote somewhere he does not live. North Carolina is now investigating. Of course, he wrote in his memoir about the dangers of voter fraud. And, to add a bit more dissonance, Meadows is still being looked into for potentially helping plan January 6; we know he was texting Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about the riot. He also pushed the Department of Justice to challenge the 2020 election’s integrity. And, before he was chief of staff, Meadows was elected to Congress as a result of “extreme gerrymandering.”
As writer Alex Pareene recently pointed out, there’s a certain amount of self-actualization here. Quite a few Republicans are committing voter fraud and thus proving there is voter fraud. The Washington Post has reported plenty more examples—which means we probably are not “prepared for mass voter fraud basically being summoned into existence by the conservatives who think it is already widespread,” Pareene writes. Don’t forget: Trump literally asked his supporters to vote twice.
As we watch not-admitting-Trump-lost-in-2020 become a campaign necessity for Republicans, it is maddening to see anti-democracy shoehorned into law as a way of cracking down on…anti-democracy. The myth of a stolen election has become the impetus for the GOP to set up a mechanism to potentially steal elections. Each day, it seems more clear that the next time someone like Trump lies about winning, there’s much more of a chance they could pull it off.
January 6 was violent, visceral, and televised. However, even before that, I wondered if this, the stuff we’re seeing now, would be the stuff of a genuine overthrow: state-level changes to voting procedures, lawsuits, affidavits, legalese, bureaucratic changes to processes. Autocracy by paper cut.
Since the AP report came out, Mowers has faced his share of attacks. But, for now, he isn’t even dropping out of the race. He just told the local paper that Hillary Clinton, who tweeted that his actions were bad, is a menace. Meadows is still around.
What if many voters just don’t like democracy? Unfortunately, all the blog posts in the world calling out the hypocrisy won’t help.