Republicans who want to move the party forward after impeachment will have to confront the election fraud myth that sparked the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. That will require courage, because Republican voters have been fed a steady diet of lies and untruths about the vote since Election Day. Tackling the issue head-on, however, will both show moderate Americans that Republicans love democracy and highlight to rank-and-file GOP voters how badly President Trump led them astray.

For months, the typical Republican has been steadily hearing that the election was stolen. Few can probably recite specific facts to support that claim, but they know that people they trust, from Trump to his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to conservative media personalities, say this happened. For many, liberals and Democrats are the only people they have heard say otherwise. Naturally, they believe the people they trust over the ones they don’t.

Combating this means Republican officials must take to the conservative media to aggressively push back. That, in turn, will mean confronting each of the voter fraud myths head-on, armed with clear and persuasive evidence. The facts are there to support them, but they need to be aware of what the Trump propaganda machine has been spewing to make the case.

The fraud arguments fall roughly into three categories. The first is that mail-in ballots — regardless of whether they were solicited by the voter or sent unsolicited by election officials — were misused to cast fraudulent votes for Joe Biden. Specifically, it’s alleged that many states did not rigorously match signatures on the ballot envelopes to those on a voter’s registration card, thereby allowing votes cast by fraudsters to get into the mix. It’s true that some states have lower rates of ballot rejection from mail ballots than they have in the past, but that could be due to a number of circumstances — the most important being that so many more people used mail ballots in 2020 than previously. In any event, even applying prior rejection rates to the total of mail ballots cast in 2020 would not have changed the result of the election. Biden’s margin in virtually every swing state far exceeds the number of votes that theoretically could have been disqualified under this fraud myth’s contention.

The second pro-fraud argument is that election officials in selected cities stuffed the ballot box during election-night counting. The only evidence given to try to back this allegation are the alleged absence of GOP vote monitors in some locations and the videotape that supposedly shows an election worker in Fulton County, Ga., finding a stack of ballots under a table once GOP monitors were gone. Neither allegation holds up under close scrutiny.

None of the counts produced by the supposedly fraudulent vote counters in Democratic (and usually Black-dominated) cities are inconsistent with those produced in prior elections. Moreover, precinct data from large cities around the country show the same trends as those in the cities labeled as fraudulent by Trump. This strongly suggests that the vote counts in the targeted cities were accurate, regardless of the presence of GOP monitors, unless one wants to believe that every single election authority in the country was in on the steal. The Fulton County videotape is also easily explicable, as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has argued and Georgia law enforcement has found.

Finally, the claim that Dominion voting machines switched votes from Trump to Biden is also laughably easy to dismiss. Dominion produces a number of machines, and the ones most commonly in use are ballot preparation machines and counting machines. Ballot preparation machines record a voter’s choices and print the actual ballot. If the alleged switching occurred then, the voter could have spotted it and protested, which would lead to him or her getting a new ballot. Vote-counting machines are checked after the election during the canvassing period, when randomly selected precincts are hand-counted to match the hand counts to the machine counts. Again, unless everyone, including the Republican Party canvassers, are in on the steal, machine count fraud would be caught. Indeed, an analysis of Michigan’s county returns by the conservative election website RRH Elections found no difference between counties that used Dominion machines and those that did not.

Early on Jan. 6, The Post's Kate Woodsome saw signs of violence hours before thousands of former president Donald Trump loyalists besieged the Capitol. (The Washington Post)

Republican officials who aggressively make this case will slowly but surely change Republican voters’ minds. Once that happens, the people whose minds have changed will understand that they were duped by the man they trusted. Once burned, twice shy — these people will never fall for Trump’s lies again. That turn of mind is essential to taking the party back from the brink and preparing it for future election victories.

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