California’s gubernatorial recall election is a week away, but some Republicans and prominent voices on the right are already falsely claiming it’s unfairly tilted in favor of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
Former President Donald Trump ― who was impeached for inciting the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection with lies about the 2020 presidential election ― weighed in on the Sept. 14 California recall on Tuesday with a complaint about the state’s early vote-by-mail system.
“It’s probably rigged,” Trump said during an interview on right-wing cable channel Newsmax. “They’re sending out all ballots ― the ballots are mail-out, mail-in ballots. I guess you even have a case where you can make your own ballot. When that happens nobody’s going to win except these Democrats.”
The “rigged” election rhetoric in the California recall continues a trend in the Republican Party of questioning the legitimacy of America’s elections and democracy itself, even after the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill that led to several deaths and the injuries of more than 140 police officers.
If anything, members of the GOP seem to be doubling down on the strategy, embracing efforts to “audit” legitimate 2020 elections in states like Arizona and Nevada, and spewing more dangerous lies about election security and voter fraud.
There’s been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in California’s recall election. Moreover, even some Republican-controlled states like Utah rely on voting by mail to run their elections.
If there is one way the election is actually “stacked” against Republicans, it’s that California simply boasts many more registered Democratic voters ― by nearly a 3-1 margin. There’s nothing rigged about that; California is a blue state, and a Republican-led recall effort was always going to have difficulty there.
Recent polling has found the recall effort losing steam and Newsom’s favorability rebounding, something that is probably driving the early accusations of widespread election fraud on the right. Democrats were worried that lax voter engagement could pave the way for a GOP governor in California, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren similarly claimed this week that the “only thing” that will save Newsom is voter fraud.
“So, as they say, stay woke, pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California, because it’s going to have big consequences not only for that state, but for upcoming elections,” she added.
The leading recall candidate in the race, conservative radio host Larry Elder, has also dabbled in 2020 election conspiracy theories and suggested voter fraud will allow Newsom to win.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.