If this week’s midterm elections solidified anything, it’s the fact that Republican election denialism is now just another strategic tool that’s here to stay.

But there’s something markedly different, and more eerie, about seeing outright anti-democratic rhetoric come out of the mouths of local candidates rather than, well, Donald Trump. One opportunist who will go to any length to keep his base fired up is rationalizable. Hell, even a whole group of opportunistic, power-hungry politicians willing to sell out democracy makes sense to me. 

But hearing it from people I’ve been in the same room with, that I’ve interacted with at events and on Twitter, just solidifies how worrying this moment really is. 

Monroe County’s election results came out much later than usual this week. The county Board of Elections said it was due to connectivity problems with the public results website, and things were cleared up relatively quickly when compared with some other districts that are still counting ballots to this day. Certainly concerning, but we can’t just accept this newly-forced idea that late results equal malfeasance.

But that’s what NY-25 Republican challenger La’Ron Singletary jumped to when results came out that he lost to Democratic incumbent Joe Morelle. He called for an investigation into “unprecedented irregularities” with the election process, which is perhaps a fair request given the situation, but, on election night, he also sent out a statement saying “several issues came into question regarding the validity of ballots and how they were accounted for and recorded.” 

Like a reflex, he jumped to the idea that votes were invalid or unaccounted for or unrecorded. I don’t think I need to point out again how this is an immense and dangerous jump in logic. And this is far from the most egregious example of local election denialism in the wake of the midterms — at least Singletary had the sense to concede once explanations were made public. 

Maybe he released the statements out of genuine concern, maybe he just wanted to cast doubts — whatever the case, none of this bodes well. He wasn’t the only local candidate to veer down the path either. The State Assembly District 137 race saw Working Families Party incumbent Demond Meeks unsuccessfully challenged by Marcus Williams of the Conservative Party, who took to Twitter to decry “this year’s election results & malfeasance surrounding it.” Williams lost by over 35 points. Do they make enough paper to fake that many ballots?

Maybe things will be okay, and maybe I’m naive for expecting more from political opportunists, but these midterms jarred me, and I think this feeling is going to become a regular occurrence.

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