Report Details How Election Denialists Recruit Veterans
NEW YORK – Human Rights First this week released Mapping the Movement: Election Denialists Recruit Veterans and Threaten 2024 Election, a report that tracks election deniers’ efforts to recruit veterans into the movement.
“Election deniers are attempting to quietly populate our democratic institutions with sympathizers and conspiracy theorists,” said report lead author and Human Rights First Senior Researcher for Antisemitism and Extremism Dr. Liz Yates. “Part of their strategy is to recruit and exploit U.S. veterans. Our new report exposes this tactic and outlines how to respond to it.”
The investigation details the movement’s efforts to recruit veterans, the impact on democratic institutions and processes, and how pro-democracy advocates can challenge them. Some findings:
- In 2020, election deniers contributed to delayed results, wasted public resources, and distrust in election outcomes. Since then, the movement has dramatically increased its power and influence at local levels, threatening election processes and outcomes in 2024.
- The election denial movement uses the veteran community’s reputation to legitimize election denial conspiracies and appeal to broader audiences, further mainstreaming election denial in the U.S. population.
- To recruit veterans, election deniers often obscure their extremist connections and agendas, evoke patriotic duty, and exploit mainstream veterans’ networks.
- The movement’s mainstreaming of election denial conspiracies will increase harassment, intimidation, and violence directed at election workers, and the suppression of votes in minority communities.
- Key actors and organizations mobilizing election deniers at the local level include Steve Bannon; Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Retired; True the Vote; the Election Integrity Network, and Tea Party Patriots Action. True the Vote and the Flynn-linked organization The America Project have sponsored veteran-focused recruitment programs, joining veteran-specific groups like Veterans for America First (VFAF) to directly target veterans. VFAF has endorsed over 50 candidates in the 2024 elections already.