I don't think we've ever been at a point that's been quite this tenuous for the democracy. I think it's a huge danger because it's the first time that I've seen it being undermined — our democracy being undermined from within. — Christine Todd Whitman, former GOP governor of New Jersey and founder and co-chair of States United Democracy Center
I don't think we've ever been at a point that's been quite this tenuous for the democracy. I think it's a huge danger because it's the first time that I've seen it being undermined — our democracy being undermined from within. — Christine Todd Whitman, former GOP governor of New Jersey and founder and co-chair of States United Democracy Center

It's all designed to make it easier to raise the doubt and uncertainty to allow a close election to be overturned. 2020 was a preview of what is likely to be darker times to come, if we continue down this path away from democracy. — Ben Berwick, an attorney at Protect Democracy
It's all designed to make it easier to raise the doubt and uncertainty to allow a close election to be overturned. 2020 was a preview of what is likely to be darker times to come, if we continue down this path away from democracy. — Ben Berwick, an attorney at Protect Democracy

What it's going to cause — and we've seen this happening across the country — is local officials are going to leave. That opens the door to adding more political actors — less professional, more political actors — into the election space, which, again, is incredibly dangerous. — Matthew Masterson, former senior cybersecurity adviser with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
What it's going to cause — and we've seen this happening across the country — is local officials are going to leave. That opens the door to adding more political actors — less professional, more political actors — into the election space, which, again, is incredibly dangerous. — Matthew Masterson, former senior cybersecurity adviser with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Are we going to hold people who are publishing conspiracy theories accountable when someone does get killed? — Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee election commission
Are we going to hold people who are publishing conspiracy theories accountable when someone does get killed? — Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee election commission

Trump-ism is going to survive Donald Trump, and he has unleashed a set of forces, anti-democratic — small-D democratic — anti-democratic forces that are going to plague American democracy for years to come. I think we're in grave danger. — Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine
Trump-ism is going to survive Donald Trump, and he has unleashed a set of forces, anti-democratic — small-D democratic — anti-democratic forces that are going to plague American democracy for years to come. I think we're in grave danger. — Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine

It used to be unthinkable to contemplate election subversion in the United States. It's now not only become thinkable, but become something that we need to spend the next few years guarding against. It is the greatest danger facing American democracy today. — Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine
It used to be unthinkable to contemplate election subversion in the United States. It's now not only become thinkable, but become something that we need to spend the next few years guarding against. It is the greatest danger facing American democracy today. — Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine

In the wake of Trump's attack on democracy, election officials fear for the future of American elections
Trump's efforts to subvert the election began well before Election Day, and have only gained momentum since, with Republicans passing laws to restrict voting or make it easier for partisans to interfere in more than a dozen states, including key battlegrounds. Most recently, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an election bill into law last week over the fierce objection of the state's Democrats, who, in hopes of derailing similar restrictions proposed earlier this summer, had fled the state two times en masse.

The state legislative efforts are bolstered by a coordinated, behind-the-scenes push by conservative groups to raise millions to support restrictive voting laws, spread unproven claims about voter fraud and fund sham audits of election results. All of which, election experts say, will make it easier the next time to overturn close results, and puts the future of free and fair elections in jeopardy.

"I don't think we've ever been at a point that's been quite this tenuous for the democracy," Christine Todd Whitman, a former GOP governor of New Jersey and a founder and co-chair of States United Democracy Center, told CNN. "I think it's a huge danger because it's the first time that I've seen it being undermined -- our democracy being undermined from within."

CNN spoke to about a dozen state and county officials involved in elections for this story; all of them expressed concern that the widespread and unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election could take a lasting toll on American democracy.

For weeks after the election, Trump tried to sabotage the will of American voters in his relentless attempts to overturn the results. He and his allies browbeat local officials in multiple states and tried in vain to coerce the Department of Justice to open a bogus investigation. They dispatched attorneys to file nearly 60 lawsuits across the country; all but one minor case were dropped or dismissed -- some by Trump-appointed judges.

But while those efforts were stymied by a thin line of civil servants, a concerted push in myriad states to set the stage for a future power grab is finding more success.

"It's all designed to make it easier to raise the doubt and uncertainty to allow a close election to be overturned," said Ben Berwick, an attorney at Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan organization that works to keep elections and election administration from being politicized. "2020 was a preview of what is likely to be darker times to come, if we continue down this path away from democracy."

Polls show most Republican voters continue to believe Trump's lie that he won the election. In July, a poll from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that two-thirds of Republicans still believe Biden was not legitimately elected.

That big lie, coupled with punishing new laws and threats against poll workers, has prompted fatigue in the field and a potential exodus of knowledgeable people to run smooth elections in the future, experts and poll workers say.

"What it's going to cause -- and we've seen this happening across the country -- is local officials are going to leave," said Matthew Masterson, a former senior cybersecurity adviser with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, primarily responsible for elections. "That opens the door to adding more political actors -- less professional, more political actors -- into the election space, which, again, is incredibly dangerous.


Nearly 1 in 3 election officials say they feel unsafe because of their jobs, and about 1 in 5 listed threats to their lives as a job-related concern, according to a spring survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's Law School.

Among them is Claire Woodall-Vogg, the executive director of the Milwaukee election commission. In early August -- nine months after the election -- she received voicemails calling for her hanging. Those and other threats followed two rightwing websites publishing an email exchange in which she responded to a joke by an election consultant on November 4 about how the votes had been submitted at 3 a.m. The sites suggested Woodall-Vogg delivered Joe Biden a questionable win in her district.

"Are we going to hold people who are publishing conspiracy theories accountable when someone does get killed?" Woodall-Vogg said in an interview with CNN.

... "Trump-ism is going to survive Donald Trump, and he has unleashed a set of forces, anti-democratic -- small-D democratic -- anti-democratic forces that are going to plague American democracy for years to come," warned Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine. "I think we're in grave danger."

... In short, as the nation's culture and demographics shift, one of the two major political parties in the world's beacon of democracy has a huge faction that favors contracting the vote over expanding the party tent. "It used to be unthinkable to contemplate election subversion in the United States," Hasen said. "It's now not only become thinkable, but become something that we need to spend the next few years guarding against. It is the greatest danger facing American democracy today."
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/12/politics/trump-2020-future-presidential-elections-invs/index.html