Elder gears up to challenge likely Newsom victory with baseless fraud claims

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder speaks during a campaign stop outside a restaurant in San Diego, Calif., September 3, 2021. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

In a newly-added section of his campaign website, the conservative frontrunner in the California recall election, Larry Elder, rips a page out of former President Trump’s playbook by floating baseless claims of election fraud. The new website page was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

The new section of the website, which redirects to a petition and a link to report “discrepancies in the California Election”, comes as incumbent Gavin Newsom’s numbers rise in recent polls. The latest poll, released Friday by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, shows Newsom up by almost 22 points. Around 60.1% of voters plan to vote no, with just 38.5% planning to vote yes.

“Nearly four in ten of the likely voters said they had already voted at the time the latest poll was conducted and these early voters are giving Newsom a substantial lead, and are voting against the recall more than two to one,” Berkeley IGS Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said in a statement. “One bright spot for recall supporters is that large majorities of voters who are voting in person either prior to Election Day or on Election Day are voting Yes in support of Newsom’s recall. However, their numbers do not appear to be anywhere near enough to change the outcome in their favor.”

The petition linked on Elder’s website claims, without any evidence, that “statistical analyses” show fraud in the recall election, that voters are casting improper ballots, and that “undocumented ballots” have been discovered prior to election day on the 14th. The petition asks for a special session of the California state legislature to address possible irregularities in the election.

“We trust in our elected officials to safeguard that ballot box, such that its results will truly reflect our will as Californian’s [sic],” the petition says. “However, when those officials, either through laziness or incompetence, allow thieves to steal amidst the dead of night and cheat our ballot box, we can no longer rely on its contents.”

Elder’s cosign of the baseless fraud petition comes alongside suggestions of wrongdoing he made to reporters on Wednesday, per CNN. After voting for himself, Elder said he believes there will be “shenanigans” in the election similar to the 2020 presidential election, when Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud in that election, and security officials have called it the most secure in the country’s history.

“The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans,” Elder said on Fox News. “And my fear is they’re going to try that in this election right here…”

Elder said his campaign is readying a legal team to file lawsuits when the time is right, much like the former President did.

“We have a voter integrity board all set up — most of these are lawyers,” Elder said. “So, when people hear things, they contact us. We’re going to file lawsuits in a timely fashion.”

Trump, Elder, and others’ claims of the 2020 election being stolen have yet to be proven, with countless lawsuits in several states being thrown out and billion-dollar countersuits by voting machine companies being allowed to move forward. Conservative news outlets have issued retractions, corrections, and statements distancing themselves from the rumors.

Newsom voted for himself on Friday, expressing confidence while staying cautious and encouraging his supporters to turn out. When asked about Elder’s claims of possible “shenanigans” occurring in the recall election, Newsom brushed them off.

“We’re four days out, the election hasn’t even happened and now they’re all feigning election fraud. And I think it’s important to highlight that,” he said.

The last day to vote in the recall election is September 14th and will determine whether Newsom can complete his first term. If he survives the recall, he’ll be up for re-election next year.

President Joe Biden will join Newsom on a campaign stop in Long Beach on Monday, after a quick visit to Sacramento to survey wildfire damage. The visit will be the second public endorsement of Newsom from the executive office following a rally with Vice President Kamala Harris earlier this month.

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