Trump not alone on election integrity: read stances of top-6 GOP primary candidates

Trump isn’t the only candidate who is making election integrity an issue in 2024.

Published: June 10, 2023 11:41pm

Updated: June 12, 2023 1:50am

The 2024 GOP presidential primary season is now in full swing with essentially all of the top, likely candidates having committed and key issues emerging such as the economy and the war in Ukraine – as well as election fraud and election integrity, which remain at the top on front-running former President Trump's list. 

Even in arguably Trump's most high-profile appearance so far in the 2024 election cycle, the CNN town hall last month, the former president again leaned hard into his concerns about the 2020 election that he lost.

“Most people understand what happened," he said. "It was a rigged election, and it was a shame we had to go through it."

However, Trump's top five challengers are also concerned, but have varying views.  

Here are the positions of each of the six candidates on the 2020 presidential election and election integrity:

1.Trump. The former president has repeatedly said that the 2020 election was “rigged,” initially alleging after the election that there were large vote dumps overnight, voting machines that switched votes from him to now-President Biden, and ballots casted for dead voters.

In a CNN town hall, Trump said there was stuffing of ballot drop boxes. He also said during the primetime TV event that he would continue to point out election fraud when he sees it and suggested implementing some election integrity measures.

“If I see election fraud, I think I have an obligation to say it,” Trump said. “And what we went through a short while ago has really put our country in a big problem. I hope to do that. I hope we’re going to have very honest elections. We should have voter ID. We should have one-day elections. We should have paper ballots, instead of these mail-in votes.”

2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis has avoided saying whether he believes that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, he campaigned for Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake, who were Trump-endorsed 2022 gubernatorial candidates for Pennsylvania and Arizona, respectively, and have said that the 2020 election was stolen.

In April 2022, DeSantis signed into law a bill that created the Florida State Department’s Office of Election Crimes and Security, which investigates election crimes and sends criminal referrals to state law enforcement.

3. Former U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley. During her own, recent CNN town hall, Haley acknowledged issues in the 2020 election but said they wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

She also endorsed election integrity measures such as voter ID, which she enacted in South Carolina when governor.

“I think it’s important that voters want to have election integrity," Haley said during the town hall. "That’s the biggest thing. And I've seen – when I was at the United Nations, there’s nothing worse than when a country and their citizens don’t trust the election system."

Haley said about the 2020 elections: “We know that there was [illegal ballot] harvesting that was happening. And then you had secretaries of state that did things without approval from their legislature. Those are pretty serious. And so what we've seen happen in states is they've started to pass election integrity laws, which we need to have. And I think that's really important.”

4. Former Vice President Mike Pence. Nearly two months after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, when he certified the Electoral College results despite Trump’s urging to send some of them back to their respective states, Pence acknowledged there were issues with the 2020 presidential election. However, he argued that states, not the federal government, should fix the issues.

“I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election,” Pence wrote for The Heritage Foundation.

“Many of the most troubling voting irregularities took place in states that set aside laws enacted by state legislatures in favor of sweeping changes ordered by governors, secretaries of state, and courts,” he later said.

“While legislators in many states have begun work on election reform to restore public confidence in state elections, unfortunately, congressional Democrats have chosen to sweep those valid concerns and reforms aside and to push forward a brazen attempt to nationalize elections in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution.

“Election reform is a national imperative, but under our Constitution, election reform must be undertaken at the state level,” Pence also noted.

5. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. The political outsider doesn't think fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election, and his only election-related proposal to date is to change the voting age in specific cases.

Regarding the 2020 presidential election, the entrepreneur said in an NPR interview last month, “I think that in the technical sense of that word, [Biden] is obviously the lawfully elected president.”

Ramaswamy also said he has "seen no evidence" there was large-scale ballot fraud that changed the election outcome, based on how the votes were counted.

However, he has proposed raising the voting age to 25 for those who are not in public service or cannot pass a basic civics test.

6. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. The day before the final certification of the Electoral College results by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, Scott said in a statement that he believed there were issues in the 2020 presidential election.

However, in the states in which Trump had brought lawsuits regarding issues in the election, no courts had "found evidence indicating the election results in those states should be overturned,” Scott said.

He also argued that while Congress has some authority over elections it cannot overturn ones "wherein the states have certified and sent their electors.”

"In nearly every election across this great country, there is some modicum of error,” he also wrote. “Some errors are merely mistakes, while some are intentional, and therefore fraud. Some mistakes are inconsequential, while some could in fact change the outcome of elections. We must work to end these errors - be they intentional, negligent, or otherwise."

Scott and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced legislation later in January 2021 that would have established “the 2020 Bipartisan Advisory Committee to examine the integrity of the November election and make recommendations to State legislatures to improve the security, integrity and administration of federal elections.”

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