Republicans running partisan reviews of the 2020 election results and Democrats trying to stop them are barreling toward court showdowns in two key swing states in the coming weeks. Nearly a year after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Republican-led legislative chambers in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are still forging ahead with investigations similar to earlier efforts in states such as Arizona — which were sharply criticized by election experts — looking for evidence of fraud or other malfeasance in the 2020 vote. Now, an initial round of rulings and new court dates in lawsuits challenging the reviews is coming up, with Democrats and election experts hoping they will halt the drive by Republican lawmakers to revisit the results. Investigations in other states, most recently Texas, have failed to turn up evidence of serious issues. And election experts have long warned that the reviews — which supporters often call “audits,” a term professional election administrators and experts have rejected — are a political vehicle for former President Donald Trump and his followers to launder their conspiratorial beliefs about his 2020 loss into the mainstream under the guise of government investigation.
National: The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Presidential Election | Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague/The New York Times
On Nov. 23, 2020, Aaron Van Langevelde, a little-known 40-year-old Republican, did something routine, but — in the Trump era — something also heroic: He helped stop a plot to overturn the presidential election. As a member of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, Van Langevelde calmly and modestly voted to certify the results of the election to reflect the will of the voters, not the candidate his party preferred. He did it without rhetorical flourish. He did it despite tremendous pressure from President Donald J. Trump and his allies, who were pushing lies and disinformation to undermine the outcome. “John Adams once said, ‘We are a government of laws, not men,’” Van Langevelde said in a brief speech that would make him a villain of the far right and lead to his ouster from the board. “This board needs to adhere to that principle here today.” Scenes like this played out across the country: in Wisconsin, where Rohn Bishop, the Republican Party chair in Fond du Lac, stood up to Trumpian lies; in Arizona, where Clint Hickman, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, ducked the president’s phone calls; in Pennsylvania, where Valerie Biancaniello, a Republican activist and Trump campaign head in Delaware County, demanded evidence instead of conspiracies. The unheralded and mostly unknown Republicans active in local politics who refused to go along with Trump’s lies — and played a key role in preserving American democracy — are the main subject of “The Steal,” by the journalists Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague. At 230 pages of text, their book is a lean, fast-paced and important account of the chaotic final weeks of the Trump administration.