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Election Denialism Continues in Wilson County, Tenn.

Despite election officials across the nation confirming that there was no evidence of election fraud, county GOP members recently screened an election denier documentary to educate voters.

(TNS) — In the wake of the 2020 election, where President Joe Biden was elected over former President Donald Trump by more than 7 million votes nationwide, Republicans have maintained that the Oval Office was stolen.

Although more than 50 court cases have been tossed out alleging election fraud in a number of states, that narrative persists.

Since the 2020 election, Trump's campaign and others have filed and lost numerous lawsuits contesting election processes, vote counting and the vote certification process in multiple states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Among the judges who have dismissed the lawsuits were several appointed by Trump.

Multiple lawyers on Trump's legal team have said they would not make statements to the effect in court over risking their license to practice law. It did not stop one of the president's lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, who had his law license suspended by the state of New York. In a separate defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Machines, one of the companies whose electronic ballots were used in the election, against Sidney Powell, another one of Trump's lawyers, her defense was that no reasonable person would think that what she was saying were statements of fact.

Texas state District Judge Andrea Bouressa denied Powell's motion to dismiss the state bar's lawsuit during a hearing on June 23. The state bar's Committee for Lawyer Discipline filed a petition against Powell in state court in March, asking the court to sanction Powell and rule that she committed professional misconduct with her lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in multiple battleground states.

Another Texan, Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin on the basis that those states implemented pandemic-related changes to election procedures that were illegal and cast into question the election results. The United States Supreme Court dismissed the case, offering a brief explanation.

"Texas has not demonstrated a judicially-cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections," the court wrote in an unsigned ruling in December of 2020.

Despite the cries of foul from the right, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that the election was the most secure in American history. A joint statement from the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Sector Coordinating Council Executive Committees regarding the 2020 general election also called it the "most secure in American history."

If it can't be litigated in court, why is it in the court of public opinion?

2,000 Mules

The Wilson County, Tenn., GOP recently held a screening of a documentary, which has come under criticism for what it claims to be exposure of voter fraud, at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon.

The movie, "2,000 Mules," alleges that nearly half a million fraudulent ballots were cast in the election, forcing it to swing in Biden's favor. The titular mules refer to individuals the movie claims helped cast those ballots, based on surveillance footage of ballot-drop boxes and cell-phone-tracking data.

Even Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, said under oath that, "The election was not stolen by fraud, and I have not seen anything since the election that changed my mind on that, including the '2,000 Mules' movie."

Barr's remarks have done little to sway Trump's base, which 18 months into the Biden presidency maintains that Trump actually won the election and insists they are doing the right thing by showing the movie.

"The reason we are showing it is to help people understand," said Brad Lytle, the Wilson County GOP chairman. "We don't believe the election (results), so we are trying to educate people."

When Lytle, like many Americans, went to bed the night of the election in 2020, Trump was in the lead in several states that ultimately flipped to Biden.

"As I watched the elections in 2020 and went to bed at about 3 o'clock (a.m.), Donald Trump was up in five states," Lytle said. "I woke up the next morning, (and) he was down in all those states."

Taking a look at one of those states, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that approximately 170,000 absentee votes were tallied overnight and went largely to Biden. Mail-in ballots favoring Democrats was not abnormal in 2020. Prior to Election Day, Trump spent months warning his base not to use mail-in voting.

Over the course of the next two months, members of Trump's legal team attempted multiple lawsuits to have the election results tossed out, or referred back to state legislators for re-confirmation. Those efforts have come under the spotlight in recent weeks as a congressional Jan. 6 select committee explores the events that lead up to and unfolded the day that the Capitol was stormed by violent demonstrators in 2021.

The movie that Lytle's organization screened relies on arguments bolstered by the former president that have so far not gained traction in any courtroom. Part of the matter is trying to square data points the filmmaker represents as too coincidental to just be random, including the geo-tracking of phone location services of the alleged mules.

"I believe (in) the geotracking," Lytle said. "Geotracking is the same thing that puts an Uber in front of me, so you can't say that it didn't work. People are saying that geotracking is irrelevant and doesn't prove anything. Well, it proves it to me."

A report from PlaceIQ — a data and technology provider that powers critical business and marketing decisions with location data, analytics and insights — indicated that there is a complex relationship between factors such as signal source, environment and personal use that affect location data accuracy. These findings could suggest a level of difficulty to track something down as precisely as 2,000 Mules alleges.

Lytle pointed to another instance of election impropriety, about a former Arizona mayor, who pleaded guilty to ballot abuse in May.

Guillermina Fuentes, 66, could get probation for running what the Arizona Attorney General's Office investigators called a "sophisticated operation," in which she used her status as a well-known Democratic operative in San Luis to persuade voters to let her gather and, in some cases, fill out their ballots.

However, prosecutors in the Fuentes case were unable to prove that Fuentes filled out one voter's ballot and forged signatures on some of the four ballots she illegally returned for people who were not family members. Fuentes and a second woman were indicted in December of 2020 on one count of ballot abuse, a practice commonly known as "ballot harvesting" that was made illegal under a 2016 state law. The conspiracy, forgery and an additional ballot abuse charge against her have all been dropped.

As for the movie's filmmaker, Dinesh D'Souza, his record is anything but clean. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud in 2014 after making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign, according to a release from then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

In a release dated May 20, 2014, Bharara announced D'Souza's plea for violating the federal election campaign law by making illegal contributions to a U.S. senate campaign in the names of others.

The release states, "D'Souza now has admitted, through his guilty plea, what we have asserted all along — that he knowingly and intentionally violated federal election laws.

The release also states, "D'Souza made or caused more than $10,000 worth of campaign contributions under the names of others," and that "he willfully and knowingly submitted false reports about the amounts and sources of those contributions."

Lytle dismissed the matter as a witch hunt that led him to plead to (campaign finance fraud.)

Benjamin Brafman, an attorney for D'Souza, said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that his client "did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever ... at worst this was an act of misguided friendship by D'Souza."

Of additional note, as Lytle pointed out, the down ballot races and bellwether indicators of the election were irreconcilable with typical election outcomes.

"Down ballot, Republicans won in all those places," Lytle said. "That is one of the anomalies, so called, that makes people wonder, why did the president lose? What happened to coattails? Why did President Trump win 18 of the 19 bellwether (counties)?"

Bellwether counties refers to the 19 counties in the United States that had voted for the ultimate president-elect correctly in every election since 1980. Trump did win 18 of those 19 counties. However, demographics and political preferences can change at any time for any reason.

(c)2022 The Lebanon Democrat, Tenn. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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