The Washington Post

The ‘big lie’ is still a threat

The Georgia voting breach reminds us election denial has not ended.

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THE TALE of how rogue actors sought to access voting systems after the 2020 election becomes more convoluted with every new piece of informatio­n. Yet the bottom line remains simple: Former president Donald Trump’s allies went to swing states around the country breaching critical infrastruc­ture and damaging democracy even as they claimed to protect it. The “big lie” motivating their efforts is as potent a threat today.

New surveillan­ce video from rural Coffee County, Ga., as reported by The Post’s Emma Brown and Jon Swaine, reveals a hodgepodge of election deniers visited a local elections office in early 2021 as they hunted for nonexisten­t proof of voter fraud. Most interestin­g are the activists’ links to each other and similar gambits elsewhere: Some were forensic specialist­s hired by lawyer Sidney Powell to copy sensitive software — an incident already the subject of a federal lawsuit against Georgia authoritie­s. Others, it now appears, were consultant­s connected to interferen­ce in multiple other states, including Michigan, where the same forensic firm also traveled for the same purpose, according to records.

The precise connection­s between attempts to probe voting systems not only in Georgia and Michigan but also in New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona remain unclear. What’s obvious, however, is the devastatin­g impact of the tampering. Of course, when a password to a machine appears on Youtube, there’s a security risk. Punching a hole in a system also renders it more vulnerable to future hacking, which puts a heavy burden on cash-strapped jurisdicti­ons forced to replace their equipment. Technical safeguards can mitigate some of this danger. But no piece of computer code can restore the public’s trust in the integrity of the country’s elections. That’s true for those who believe Joe Biden won in 2020 but now worry that hackers can fiddle with results, as well as those who still think, contrary to all available evidence, that Trump was the real victor — whose suspicions the meddlers sought to stoke.

The surest solution to the nation’s crisis of trust in our democracy is for the members of the Republican Party still claiming a stolen election to stop — or, more plausibly, for the country’s citizens to keep these reckless myth-makers out of office. Fivethirty­eight reported last week that 60 percent of Americans will see an election denier on the ballot this fall. This will happen in nearly every state. Some of the candidates, such as Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvan­ia and Kari Lake in Arizona, are even up for governor. The Democratic Party bears some responsibi­lity for strategica­lly boosting these individual­s in primaries. Now, the American people bear the responsibi­lity for ensuring they aren’t given the platform and power to do even more harm.

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