More than a dozen House Democrats are calling on the Department of Justice to address “insider threats” that they say candidates for state and local election posts, who believe the 2020 election was stolen, pose to the nation’s election systems.
“Unfortunately, many of the candidates seeking to fill newly vacated state and local election posts support former President Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen,” wrote the Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
Reps. Deborah Ross of North Carolina, Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Terri Sewell of Alabama are co-leaders on the letter.
“We are concerned that this new cohort of election officials may be inclined to abuse their authority to directly influence the results of future elections,” they wrote.
The lawmakers suggest that there is an “active effort to recruit and convince election officials at all levels of governance to sabotage future elections by spreading conspiracy theories and promoting the claims of election deniers.”
In addition to pointing to local examples in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Colorado, the lawmakers say that “at least ten candidates running for secretary of state and eight running for state attorney general across the country back false claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate.”
Here are the three things the group of lawmakers are calling on DOJ to do:
- Protect the integrity of election results, including by addressing “threats coming from within our electoral system.”
- Work with states to investigate possibly prosecute individuals and who engage in illegal conduct that poses a “serious threat to voting system security and software, or disrupts the fair and accurate counting of votes.”
- Consider additional steps, such as deploying nonpartisan election monitors.
Watchdog groups have sounded alarms for months about candidates who have disputed the results of the 2020 election running for election offices.
At least 22 candidates who have questioned President Joe Biden’s victory were running for secretary of state jobs in 18 states as of late February, according to States United Action, a nonpartisan group tracking the contests.
And in Colorado last week, a grand jury indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in a case stemming from an investigation into an election security breach.
The criminal investigation into the clerk’s office began after Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, accused Peters and her deputies of facilitating a security breach in May. The breach resulted in confidential voting machine logins and forensic images of their hard drives being published in a QAnon-affiliated Telegram channel in early August 2021, according to previous CNN reporting.
Peters, a pro-Trump Republican who recently announced a bid for Colorado secretary of state, has cast the investigation as politically motivated.
In a statement last week, Griswold said that Peters’ actions “constituted one of the nation’s first insider threats” involving an election official risking “the integrity of the election system in an effort to prove unfounded conspiracy theories.”
CNN’s Jeremy Harlan contributed to this story