Since the 2020 election, far-right attempts to subvert our democracy have grown, featuring tactics like restricting voting rights and peddling voter fraud conspiracies. Key conservative groups and leaders have used their influence networks to popularize dangerous conspiracies and fold them into the mainstream conservative movement.
Cleta Mitchell, a conservative legal activist best known for helping former president Donald Trump attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, sits at the center of the far-right anti-democracy movement. Mitchell is a senior legal fellow and board secretary at the Conservative Partnership Institute, where she leads their Election Integrity Network, as well as chairman and director of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Through these organizations, Mitchell has led the conservative assault on voting rights.
Through his dark influence network, conservative kingpin Leonard Leo is also deeply involved in far-right attempts to subvert democracy. Leo operates two groups under the Honest Elections Project banner which aim to advance more restrictive voting laws — but these organization names are fictitious and are actually subprojects of Leo’s 85 Fund and the Judicial Crisis Network, proving just how far Leo and his collaborators will go to cover their tracks.
In the months surrounding the 2020 election, these groups launched harmful voter suppression and anti-democracy efforts including ad campaigns to oppose mail-in voting and pushes for voter roll purges based on debunked claims. Since then, the organizations have hosted a series of conferences with state lawmakers and leading conservative advocacy groups such as ALEC and the Heritage Foundation to train conservatives on implementing more restrictive voting legislation. By the end of 2021, more than 440 bills aimed at restricting voting access were introduced at the state level, and 19 states enacted some form of voting restriction.
This dark influence network of anti-voter groups and leaders hasn’t stopped their efforts to undermine our democracy. In September, the Honest Elections Project filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper, a critical case that, if Honest Elections Project and their conservative allies had succeeded, would have been a step towards total election subversion.
Conservative organizations, activists, and megadonors know their extreme agendas could never be enacted by a truly democratic government, so they undermine democracy and voting rights to ensure they win at all costs. They work to gerrymander districts, and frequently make false and misleading claims about voter and election fraud — later calling for voter roll purges and laws that make voting more difficult under the guise of “election integrity.”
These laws don’t make elections more secure, but they do disproportionately disenfranchise poor, young, and minority voters. In rigging the system in their favor, these organizations and their donors seek to advance fringe agendas that are harmful to most Americans.