After Voters Prevent Red Wave, FRC Pushes Restrictions on Voting

Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell talk about midterms on FRC's "Washington Watch," Nov. 10, 2022.

After right-wing predictions of a “red wave” or “red tsunami” were defeated by voters, some right-wing leaders are predictably calling for new restrictions on early voting and mail-in ballots, both of which have increased access to the ballot and expanded as safe ways for people to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those calling for limiting early and mail-in voting is the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell, a notorious voter suppresser during his tenure as Ohio secretary of state, who in 2020 participated in former President Donald Trump’s scheme to get Vice President Mike Pence to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power after Trump’s loss.

An article published Tuesday by FRC’s “news” outlet, The Washington Stand, said Blackwell called it “crazy” to depend on vote by mail and said he would end early voting if he could. In a conversation with FRC’s Tony Perkins two days after the election, Blackwell declared himself “a 21st Century Luddite” and said he wanted to ditch voting machines for paper ballots and restrict voting to Election Day itself.

Blackwell and Perkins agreed that voting by mail and longer election periods create greater ballot security challenges and more opportunities for human error. “The Democrats want that type of a process,” Perkins claimed. Blackwell agreed, saying, “What they figure is that if you have enough confusion, if you have tight margins, you get vote counts in what I call the area of litigation.” In reality, election experts and studies have shown that vote by mail is safe and reliable.

While making insinuations about Democratic motives, Perkins and Blackwell said that there were fewer reports of “shenanigans” this year, thanks in part, they said, to having additional observers at the polls.

Perkins said the two political parties have worldviews that are 180 degrees apart, claiming that “Our freedoms, our abilities to raise our families, to teach our children to love the Lord and to know him and to live that faith out in the broader society is at risk in every election.” Blackwell agreed, adding, “We know that the difference between our constitutional republic is that God is at the center, is central to it, and all of the totalitarian states that I have ever visited, they tried to run God and faith out of the public square, crush the family, and make people more dependent, not free citizens but subjects.”

Speaking about the midterm elections, Blackwell said that it may not have been a red tsunami, but there were major victories for right-wing candidates. “We cannot let the devil steal our joy,” he said. Perkins responded by quoting or paraphrasing Pastor Gary Hamrick: “Hey, we saw Roe overturned, and we didn’t expect some kind of backlash from the devil?”

“I think the reason people are opposed to very practical procedures such as a photo ID is because they want to cheat the system,” Perkins said. “They want to be able to manipulate it.”

“They want confusion,” Blackwell added, “They don’t want clarity.”

To be fair, Perkins and Blackwell know something about cheating the system and creating confusion. Both energetically embraced and promoted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. In December 2020, they signed a letter falsely claiming, “There is no doubt President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election. Joe Biden is not president-elect.” The letter called on state legislatures in six battleground states won by Biden to appoint pro-Trump electors anyway. At the end of that month, both Perkins and Blackwell signed another letter urging Senate Republicans to contest electors from five states.

As mentioned earlier, Blackwell was also involved in the scheme to pressure Pence to overturn the election. On Dec. 28, 2020, Blackwell sent an email to several right-wing insiders urging that Pence and his staff get a briefing from “John and Ken”—that is, John Eastman and Ken Klukowski. Eastman, a lawyer who pushed illegal schemes to keep Trump in power, has had a long professional association with Klukowski, a former director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty who after Trump’s loss was parachuted into the Justice Department office of Jeffrey Clark, who was plotting to drag the DOJ into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

Two days before the Capitol insurrection, Blackwell tweeted a video message using the “Stop the Steal” hashtag and urging activists to demand that members of Congress address “election irregularities and illegalities” on Jan. 6. “This is not a time for sideline sitters or backbenchers,” he said. “You must do what you can with what you have where you are. Our republic demands it.”

Under Perkins’ leadership, FRC last year launched the Center for Biblical Worldview, which it said would help activists “see the spiritual war behind the political war.” Pollster and Center for Biblical Worldview senior fellow George Barna told religious right activists at FRC’s “Pray Vote Stand” summit last year that it is their duty to try to indoctrinate other people’s children into a “biblical worldview.”