Today, Republicans on the House Administration committee are holding yet another hearing on so-called election fraud, pushing false and unsubstantiated claims echoing Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud. Their star witness, Hans von Spakosvksy, has spent his career making false, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims about so-called voter fraud and was involved in efforts to undermine the 2020 election, and their speakers’ list includes an Atlanta-based election administrator who voted against certifying the 2020 election twice.
The committee – which is composed of election deniers, MAGA loyalists, and right-wing partisans who would rather push political stunts fueled by Trump’s big lie than address the real issues Americans are facing – is exploiting Congressional authority to conduct a sham demonstration to decimate American trust in democracy and push legislation seeking to blatantly undermine systems that give every citizen the freedom to have their vote counted. The House GOP is beholden to Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories and, as always, would rather uplift fringe figures than address the issues Americans are most concerned about.
House Republicans Are Using This Hearing To Push Their Disastrous So-Called American Confidence in Elections Act. The House GOP has deliberately planned a field hearing in Georgia to push a MAGA elections bill that mirrors the state’s voting restrictions adopted after the 2020 election, blocking non-citizen voting nationwide, requiring photo ID, barring same-day voter registration, and requiring intensive post-election audits — all based on the same lies and conspiracy theories former President Trump spread in his efforts to overturn the election.
- Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has reportedly called the bill “‘anti-voter legislation’ with an ‘obvious aim… to disenfranchise people and make it harder to vote.’” [11Alive, 7/7/23]
- Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY): “Our elections are secure. The majority has taken us deeper down a rabbit hole, desperately seeking some justification for their unpopular policies that would restrict access to the ballot. Today, they have really gone off the deep end.” [WAMU, 6/7/23]
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): “What is striking is how afraid the other side of the aisle is of free and fair elections. This has nothing to do with election integrity. It has to do with racial control.” [WAMU, 6/7/23]
Witnesses & Speakers
Hans von Spakosvksy is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has long used his position at the partisan think tank to push right-wing and election fraud conspiracy theories. He runs the foundation’s so-called Election Fraud Database, which was criticized by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice as “grossly exaggerated and devoid of context” and produced for former President Trump’s efforts to undermine and overturn the 2020 election. In addition, Von Spakosvksy serves on the board of directors at the hard-right Public Interest Legal Foundation, a think tank led by Trump loyalist Cleta Mitchell that worked to push false claims of voter fraud during and after the 2020 election. Von Spakovsky is also a climate change denier and an anti-immigrant hardliner who supported the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban.
- Von Spakovsky Worked To Undermine the 2020 Election, Pushing Debunked MAGA Conspiracy Theories. Von Spakovsky was deeply involved with efforts to undermine and interfere with the 2020 election. In the run-up, he held a series of closed-door meetings with state-level Republican lawmakers and officials concerning election administration as Trump raised unfounded concerns of voter fraud, particularly mail-in voting. In one instance, the Ohio Secretary of State imposed strict limits on ballot drop boxes after meeting with von Spakovsky. After the 2020 election, he sat on the board of a group spreading a debunked QAnon adjacent conspiracy that military satellites based out of Italy were supposedly used to steal the 2020 election for Joe Biden.
- Almost All of Von Spakovsky’s So-Called Voter Fraud Allegations Have Hinged On False, Misleading, and Unfounded Claims. Since joining the Heritage Foundation around 2008, Von Spakovsky has launched a series of reports relying on false, misleading, and unfounded claims about supposed wisepread voter fraud, with the vast majority of his claims resting on unfounded clerical errors, fraudulent numbers, and unsupported anecdotes.
- Von Spakovsky Has Worked To Restrict Ballot Access By Disproportionately Disenfranchising Minority Voters. After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, von Spakovsky began working with the American Legislative Exchange Council to produce model voter ID bills restricting voting acces by disproportionately disenfranchising minority voters. Von Spakovsky also promotes purging voter rolls of individuals who fail to “vote at least once in a presidential cycle.” By 2023, 35 states had implemented restrictive laws requiring voters to show a form of identification when voting.
- 2006: Von Spakovsky’s Approval Of A Restrictive Voting Law In Georgia Pushed More Than Half of His DOJ Colleages To Quit. While working at the Department of Justice in 2006, more than half of the career lawyers in the voting section Von Spakovsky oversaw left in protest after he played a central role in the department’s approval of a controversial Georgia law enacting strict voter ID requirements over the objection of staff lawyers.
- 2006: Von Spakovsky Opposed Reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act. In 2006, Von Spakovsky opposed reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, arguing that “the evidence very clearly showed it was no longer needed” — even though the VRA was ultimately reauthorized that year by a nearly unanimous vote and signed into law by the Bush administration.
- 2006: Von Spakovsky Withdrew From A Bush-Era Appointment To the Federal Election Comission After Fierce Opposition. In 2006, von Spakovsky was appointed to the Federal Election Commission by former President George W. Bush. However, after facing fierce opposition for his partisan stances during the confirmation process, his nomination was withdrawn.
Kathleen Ruth is vice chair of the Atlanta-based Fulton County Board of Elections, one of two Republican members on the board, who voted against certifying the 2020 election and voted to oust top county elections administrators in the aftermath.
- Ruth Voted Against Certifying The 2020 Election — Twice. After the 2020 election in Georgia, Ruth twice voted against certifying the election results in Fulton County. Ruth first voted “Nay” on a motion to certify the presidential election results in November, as Republicans decried the results as so-called election fraud and demanded a recount. But even after state officials conducted a full hand recount of all ballots, Ruth voted against re-certifying the recounted results in December 2020.
- Ruth Voted To Remove Fulton County’s Elections Director Amid State Takeover Efforts. Following the 2020 election, Georgia Republicans adopted a new controversial election law empowering the state to take over local elections administration. After the law was passed, Republicans on the Fulton County elections board moved to fire top county election officials, with Ruth voting to terminate director Rick Barron. Following the vote, Ruth called the 2020 election “truly unprecedented” and alleged that the county’s election system (which she oversaw as a board member) had “errors, sloppy and inefficient processes — that really are unacceptable.”
Vernetta Keith Nuriddin is a former vice chair of the Atlanta-based Fulton County Board of Elections who voted to oust top county elections administrators in the aftermath of the 2020 election alongside Kathleen Ruth.