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31 NC, SC lawmakers join in letter laying out a path to overturn 2020 election, reinstate Trump

An electronic voting machine.

An electronic voting machine.

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More than 30 Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina and South Carolina signed onto a new letter that backs false claims about the 2020 elections and pushes for the whole country to copy a widely discredited type of election audit that Arizona recently attempted.

The letter goes on to suggest that the 2020 election results should be overturned and Democratic President Joe Biden ousted from office.

One of the lawmakers who signed the letter is North Carolina Rep. Donnie Loftis of Gastonia. He was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress in which former President Donald Trump’s supporters tried to reverse the election results by force, although he hasn’t been charged with any crimes related to that day.

Loftis initially wrote on social media that he “got gassed three times and was at the entrance when they breached the door,” The News & Observer reported, but later told WRAL-TV that “I had absolutely zero involvement in the rioting and categorically condemn the storming of our Capitol building that day.”

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Rep. Donnie Loftis of Gaston County recites the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the House session on Thursday, November 4, 2021 in Raleigh, N.C. Loftis was appointed to the General Assembly on October, 27, 2021 to fill the seat of the late Rep. Dana Bumgardner. Robert Willett [email protected]

None of the top leadership of the North Carolina or South Carolina House or Senate signed the letter, but some of those who did sign it wield significant influence within North Carolina’s House GOP caucus, like Rep. Keith Kidwell of Onslow County. He leads the far-right House Freedom Caucus whose members include nearly half of the Republicans in that chamber, and which has been pushing unsuccessfully to inspect North Carolina (*31*), The News & Observer reported.

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Republican State Rep. Keith Kidwell talks with Reopen NC demonstrators outside the Legislative Building, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The protesters were demanding the impeachment of Gov. Roy Cooper. Travis Long [email protected]

The letter itself, led by far-right Arizona state lawmaker Wendy Rogers, was posted online Tuesday night. It says every state’s election results need to be audited again, and, if audit results go in Trump’s favor, the U.S. House needs to potentially reinstate him as president.

Nearly every state automatically audits its results after every election, including North Carolina, and none of those audits have found any reason to suspect the election was fraudulent.

The few states that don’t conduct election audits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, are nearly all states Trump won.

Some states have also conducted additional audits, with no signs of fraud that could have changed the election results for either Trump or Biden. Dozens of lawsuits from Trump and his allies challenging the election also failed to provide any evidence that the election should be overturned.

The letter suggests that there is still some reason to believe fraud occurred, although it does not give any specifics.

“This is our historic obligation to restore the election integrity of the vote as the bedrock of our constitutional republic,” the letter states.

North Carolina Rep. Mike Clampitt, when reached by phone Wednesday, said the letter speaks for itself and declined to discuss it further.

The letter suggests that all 50 states conduct a “forensic audit” like the one that Rogers’ home state of Arizona just completed. That audit was conducted by a conservative political group called Cyber Ninjas that had no experience in auditing elections.

Its efforts were widely panned by experts in election administration, both inside Arizona and around the country. And the audit ended up reaffirming that Biden won Arizona, despite the contentions of the Republican politicians who backed the audit. The state Senate president who was one of that audit’s strongest supporters announced she was retiring from politics earlier this month, CNN reported, after its embarrassing rollout and results.

Rogers’ letter signed by the lawmakers from the Carolinas and other states, however, does not mention any of that. It claims that the Arizona audit found “a corrupted 2020 election,” even though the audit’s results upheld the official results.

“Decertification of a presidential election is not a thing,” election-law expert Rick Hasen posted on Twitter, reacting to the letter.

“There was no significant fraud or illegal action in the 2020 election. This sort of stunt is dangerous for American democracy and will further undermine voter confidence already shaken by lies about 2020 election rigging,” said Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

North Carolina signees

Senators: Ted Alexander, Wayne Sassar, Bob Steinburg

Representatives: Jay Adams, Mike Clampitt, Edward Goodwin, Bobby Hanig, Kelly Hastings, Keith Kidwell, Donnie Loftis, Jeff McNeely, Tim Moffitt, Larry Pittman, Mitchell Setzer, Harry Warren, Sam Watford

South Carolina signees

Senators: Tom Corbin, Rex Rice

Representatives: Stewart Jones, Ryan McCabe, RJ May, Vic Dabney, Bill Chumley, Mark Willis, Cal Forrest, Mike Burns, Steven Long, Josiah Magnuson, Ashley Trantham, John McCravy, Melissa Oremus.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.

Under the Dome

On The News & Observer’s Under the Dome podcast, we’re unpacking legislation and issues that matter, keeping you updated on what’s happening in North Carolina politics twice a week on Monday and Friday mornings. Check us out here and sign up for our weekly Under the Dome newsletter for more political news.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Will Doran reports on North Carolina politics, particularly the state legislature. In 2016 he started PolitiFact NC, and before that he reported on local issues in several cities and towns. Contact him at [email protected] or (919) 836-2858.



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