Right-Wing Voter Suppression Advocates Hold ‘Election Integrity Summit’ in Virginia 

Ken Cuccinelli speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Commons)

A coalition of Trump-supporting right-wing state and national organizations calling themselves “Virginia Fair Elections” is holding a so-called “election integrity summit” in Richmond, Virginia, this Friday and Saturday. “Election integrity” is the benign-sounding phrase adopted by a wide range of pro-Trump so-called “Stop the Steal” activists who are campaigning for new state-level voter suppression laws, defending existing ones, and opposing federal voting rights protections.

Members of the coalition sponsoring the Virginia event include:

  • Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, a massive think tank and promoter of right-wing policies. The Heritage Foundation has long been an aggressive advocate for voter suppression efforts. Hans von Spakovsky, manager of its “Election Law Reform Initiative,” took part in former Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “Election Integrity” conference earlier this year, which featured the conspiracy theorists of The Gateway Pundit. Von Spakovsky was a member of former President Donald Trump’s short-lived sham “Election Integrity Commission” to which von Spakovsky had urged administration officials not to appoint any Democrats or “mainstream” Republicans.
  • Conservative Partnership Institute, the new organizational home for former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Conservative Partner Institute is also a sponsor of an “election integrity” coalition led by Cleta Mitchell, a Team Trump lawyer who was on the notorious phone call during which Trump tried to bully the Georgia secretary of state into “finding” enough votes to overturn the presidential election results. Mitchell, who signed a Dec. 30 letter from right-wing leaders urging Senate Republicans to contest Electoral College votes from battleground states won by Biden, has helped mobilize right-wing opposition to the For the People Act, proposed federal legislation that would overturn many new voter suppression measures enacted by Republican-controlled state
  • The Election Integrity Network, a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute that is listed separately as an event sponsor. The network’s website has raised money to fund litigation and “audit” efforts in Georgia, where the group claims the certified results from the 2020 election are “not accurate.”
  • The Virginia Institute for Public Policy,  an affiliate of the State Policy Network, a network of state-level think tanks that advocate for right-wing policies. The State Policy Network is currently chaired by Carl Helstrom, a vice president at the Bradley Foundation, whose role in funding election disinformation was recently documented by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in “The Big Money Behind The Big Lie.”
  • The Middle Resolution, a group created by Virginia business executives in 2009. In a blog post days before the 2020 election, Middle Resolution President Craig DiSesa praised Trump as a “fighter” and claimed that if Democrats controlled the White House, “tyranny will rein free in this country and political and religious freedom will be a thing of the past.” The Middle Resolution PAC is backing Virginia GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin in this year’s gubernatorial election.

The summit schedule also includes these workshops:

  • Election Integrity Training for Election Workers and Poll Watchers
  • Emergency Project to Document Potential Illegal Registrations
  • Vulnerable Voters Training
  • Recruiting, Scheduling, and Deploying Poll Observers
  • Preparing for the Post Election, War Rooms, and Recounts
  • Researching How Your Local Election Office Conducts YOUR Elections

The summit has also been promoted by the Conservative Action Project, an affiliate of the secretive and influential Council for National Policy, and by Evangelicals for Trump.

Among the scheduled speakers at the Richmond “summit” is Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration official and former state attorney general. Cuccinelli was recently named a senior fellow for Immigration and Homeland Security at the Center for Renewing America, which has promoted efforts to whitewash the history and reality of systemic racism in the U.S. and pushed right-wing activists to take over school boards. Cuccinelli is a former general counsel of the FreedomWorks Foundation; FreedomWorks is also promoting right-wing coalition efforts to resist federal voting rights protections. Cuccinelli’s anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, and climate-denialist record contributed to his defeated by Terry McAuliffe in the 2013 election for governor.