“A group of Republicans has united to defend the legitimacy of US elections and those who run them”


Sterling, the chief operating officer for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, is part of an effort begun after the last presidential election that seeks to bring together Republican officials who are willing to defend the country’s election systems and the people who run them. They want officials to reinforce the message that elections are secure and accurate, an approach they say is especially important as the country heads toward another divisive presidential contest.

The group has held meetings in several states, with more planned before the Nov. 5 election.

With six months to go before the likely rematch between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump, concerns are running high among election officials that public distrust of voting and ballot counting persists, particularly among Republicans. Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, continues to sow doubts about the last presidential election and is warning his followers — without citing any evidence — that Democrats will try to cheat in the upcoming one.

This past week, during a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump repeated his false claim that Democrats rigged the 2020 election. “But we’re not going to allow them to rig the presidential election,” he said.

Just 22% of Republicans expressed high confidence that votes will be counted accurately in November, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll last year.

“It’s an obligation on Republicans’ part to stand up for the defense of our system because our party — there’s some blame for where we stand right now,” said Kentucky’s secretary of state, Michael Adams, who is part of the group and won reelection last year. “But it’s also strategically wise for Republicans to say, ‘Hey Republicans, you can trust this. Don’t stay at home.’”

The effort, which began about 18 months ago, is coordinated by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the center-right think tank R Street Institute. The goal has been to start conversations about trust in elections, primarily among conservative officials, and to develop a set of principles to accomplish that.

“This has never been and will never be about Trump specifically,” said Matt Germer, director of governance for the R Street Institute and a lead organizer of the effort. “It’s about democratic principles at a higher level –- what does it mean to be a conservative who believes in democracy, the rule of law?”…

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