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On this anniversary of the 6 January assault on the Capitol, an attack intended to block Congress from fulfilling its duty to certify the election of Joe Biden, we can of course be pleased that our institutions held. But to hear the predictions on this day of remembrance, you would think that all is lost, that next time will be better organized on a national level and could well succeed.

Several risks are cited: Republican victories in the 2022 midterms, a Trump victory in 2024, a Trump defeat in 2024 followed by renewed claims of fraud and a widespread insurrection. These fears are mostly overwrought. But one risk is very real: a Republican takeover of state and local electoral machinery that could nullify Democratic votes and hand swing states to Republicans, including Trump.

Let’s take the overwrought first. Looking at the 2022 elections, Republicans are overconfident. In fact, a party completely under the sway of Trump will continue his strategy of pumping up his base while not appealing to swing voters. That means that Republicans nationally will remain a minority and lose the suburbs. Glenn Youngkin’s win in Virginia will not teach them anything about appealing to moderate suburbanites. Democrats will hold the House and may expand their Senate majority.

One risk is very real: a Republican takeover of state and local electoral machinery that could nullify Democratic votes and hand swing states to Republicans, including Trump.

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Similarly, Trump has done nothing since his defeat in 2020 to expand his appeal. Indeed, continuing to harp on the supposedly stolen election only helps him with his core supporters. He’ll lose again (if he’s still alive), probably to some younger Democrat who will replace Joe Biden.

What if he loses and cries fraud again? What if his followers hit the streets again? This time Biden will be Commander in Chief, and would have every justification for taking decisive measures to suppress lawless behavior, including arresting Trump himself if he incites the insurrections. It would be a good chance to round these people up.

It’s the GOP takeover of electoral machinery that worries me. Some states, like Georgia, have empowered their legislature to take control of vote-counting in precincts where they don’t like the results. Republicans all over the country are trying to get elected to local and state offices that administer elections. While much of this may just cement Republican control in states that are already Republican, the danger is that they could actually swing a state like Georgia, or swing a close House or Senate election.

impeachment unavoidable

This is where the shoe will be on the other foot. Both lawsuits and protests will be needed, this year and in 2024, to head off what would be real, verifiable electoral corruption.

John Peeler