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New RNC report blames Democrats for ‘exploiting the pandemic’ in 2020 election

The report encourages the Republican Party to take legal action “whenever possible” in relation to elections

In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, delegates arrive for the first day of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, delegates begin to arrive for the first day of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. A recent 23-page report from the Republican National Committee accuses Democrat-led cities and states of “exploit(ing) the pandemic” and changing longstanding election practices in 2020.
Travis Dove, The New York Times via Associated Press

A recent report from the Republican National Committee accuses Democrat-led states of “exploit(ing) the pandemic” and changing longstanding election practices, leading to President Joe Biden’s ascent to the White House.

The 23-page report, obtained by the Deseret News, is a product of a seven-month investigation into the 2020 election. The Committee on Election Integrity, which produced the report, was created by RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in February with the stated goal to “study and make recommendations to restore election transparency and integrity” in future elections.

“What we saw this past election — states undoing important safeguards, bypassing the proper legislative processes, and changing election laws in the eleventh hour — was deeply troubling and brought chaos and uncertainty to our sacred democratic processes,” McDaniel, the niece of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, said in February.

The report outlines several pandemic-induced changes in electoral processes throughout the country in 2020, including expanded vote-by-mail, and suggests that “laws were discarded” in implementing such practices. “Republicans know the administration of the 2020 election had serious problems and failures regardless of what the press, Democrats, and so-called ‘experts’ say,” the report reads.

New Jersey and Nevada are presented in the report as two examples of poorly managed elections, where ballots were automatically mailed to voters who did not request them and poll watchers were required to stand socially distanced. Many states, including Utah, automatically mail ballots to all registered voters and have done so for years, all with “very, very little fraud,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has said.

At a national level, claims of voter fraud or irregularities sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election have not prevailed in courts of law. Also this week, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission released its comprehensive report of the presidential election to be presented to Congress, as it does following each election. This report paints the 2020 election as a remarkable success, with increased voter turnout in most states and no significant uptick in ballot rejections, despite several states implementing vote-by-mail for the first time.

The RNC report, however, included 13 pages of policy recommendations for states and recommendations to the party, ranging from additional electoral safeguards to eliminating universal mail-in voting.

Throughout the report, the committee condemns ballot harvesting and even calls for a prohibition of it, but later encourages Republicans to participate, if Democrats are engaged in the practice: “Some states may insist on ballot harvesting and Republicans in those places should work to match the Democrats’ efforts instead of not engaging out of principle.”

The report also calls on the RNC to “look for offensive litigation opportunities whenever possible.” Following the 2020 election, the RNC and the Donald Trump campaign filed 62 lawsuits challenging aspects of the election, losing 61 of them.

The committee expressed support for states which have chosen to “enact election reforms ... to improve election administration and bolster the integrity of their elections” following the 2020 election. Many, including a group of over 100 political scientists, have criticized what they called “radical changes” proposed by state legislatures and characterized the new voting laws as a threat to democracy.

This is the most substantial post-2020 election report produced by the GOP. In 2012, when Mitt Romney lost by 5 million votes to incumbent President Barack Obama, the Republican Party produced a 100-page in-depth analysis — a “post-mortem” or “autopsy,” some called it — identifying where things went wrong. Though Trump lost the 2020 election by over 7 million votes, the most substantive GOP-led analysis focuses on so-called failures in the electoral process, not failures by the candidate.