Hawley claims Democrats want to ‘consolidate power’ as GOP state lawmakers mount election obstruction

Republicans state lawmakers have filed dozens of bills to assert control over electoral apparatus in wake of Capitol attacks

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 05 January 2022 19:41
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Josh Hawley claims Democrats want to 'consolidate power'

While Republican lawmakers in nearly every state propose restrictions on ballot access and subversive changes to election administration, GOP Senator Josh Hawley accused congressional Democrats of seeking to “consolidate” their political power through the “politics of fear” in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.

Mr Hawley, relying on baseless claims of voter fraud, was the first senator to announce his objection to the certification of Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election.

During an interview with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on 4 January, he appeared to downplay the riots that were fuelled by a spurious “stolen election” narrative.

“The politics of fear that the Democratic Party has been pushing on this country for a whole year now – it’s the only thing they have to offer the country,” he said. “And what they’re trying to do with it is consolidate their power.”

He accused Democrats of wielding the federal government to “weaponise the FBI against parents” and claimed that “demonstrators” have been smeared as “insurrectionists”.

“This is the party that wants to control this country,” he said. “The only thing they have is this politics of fear, and it started last January 6 and they have used that event to try and consolidate their power and push this fear politics.”

During a speech from the Senate floor on 6 January, the Missouri senator said “what we are doing here tonight is actually very important because for those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard.”

Two days before the attack on the Capitol, Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Mr Hawley whether he planned to object to Joe Biden’s certification.

“I’m trying to pin you down on what you’re trying to do. Are you trying to say that as of 20 January, President Trump will be president?” Mr Baier asked.

“Well, that depends on what happens on Wednesday,” Mr Hawley replied. “This is why we have the debate.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Mr Baier responded. “The states by the Constitution say they certify the election. They did certify it. By the Constitution, Congress doesn’t have the right to overturn the certification, at least as most experts read it.”

In the aftermath of the assault on Congress, which sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Republican state lawmakers passed at least 32 new laws in 17 states to change the rules of election administration, stripping oversight from election officials to put it into the hands of GOP-controlled state legislatures.

Republican lawmakers filed at least 262 bills in 41 states in 2021 alone, and more are expected as legislative sessions resume in 2022, according to States United Democracy Center.

Hundreds of election workers and officials involved with the process of election administration have also faced threats and harassment from those emboldened by election fraud lies.

A parallel effort saw the passage of at 24 laws in 19 states restricting ballot access, after GOP lawmakers filed more than 440 bills in 49 states in 2021 alone, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

More than a dozen bills restricting ballot access have been pre-filed ahead of 2022 legislative session in four states, and at least 88 bills in nine states will carry over from 2021 sessions.

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