The El Paso County town of Monument is nestled in the foothills just north of the U.S. Air Force Academy. That’s where retired CFO James Horn was doing his weekly shopping at a Walmart earlier this week. The seventy-year-old Republican said he’s glad Rep. Doug Lamborn is part of the GOP effort to challenge the election results.
“Well, man, he got my vote again,” said Horn. “They should challenge it… I want Trump to be declared the President of the United States.”
Horn believes President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud, even though those claims have been contradicted by election officials and rejected by courts. His distrust of the results goes back to the days immediately after the election, when the ongoing count slowly reversed Trump’s lead in key swing states.
“I watched the numbers change drastically from one snapshot to another. And how do you do that? You stuffed the ballot box. That's how you do it,” Horn said.
Election officials have explained that late counting of Democratic-leaning absentee ballots accounted for the shift in contested states.
Colorado’s 5th Congressional District is reliably Republican; in November Lamborn won re-election to a seventh term in Congress by a margin of 20 points. But even here, the president’s support has slipped over the past four years. In El Paso County, where most of the district's residents live, voters went for Trump by just over 10 points in 2020. Four years earlier, In 2016, his margin was three times that.
Still, on a recent afternoon it was easy to find voters, like Horn, whose faith in the president’s version of the election appears unshakeable.
“There's so much media bias that I think so many people have been blocked from the truth, because the media blocks the truth,” said Nancy Jean. She hopes by forcing a debate over some states’ Electoral College votes, Republicans like Lamborn are pulling back the curtain on what she believes was widespread election fraud.
“Basically I see 75 million, 74 million that voted for Trump have been disenfranchised currently by what's happened,” she said.
Lamborn isn’t the only Colorado Republican joining the effort to challenge certain states’ Electoral College votes. Newly sworn-in Western Slope Congresswoman Lauren Boebert was the first to say she intends to do so. Ken Buck, the state’s third GOP representative and the chair of the Colorado Republican party, is not part of the effort and has warned his colleagues that they are pursuing a dangerous course.
Wednesday’s congressional challenge to overturn the election appears doomed to fail. It requires a majority in both chambers to throw out a state’s electors and with Democrats in control of the House and most Senate Republicans not backing the effort, the votes just aren’t there. But in spite of the inevitable outcome, Republican voter Steve Bassett still thinks the GOP challenge is worth doing.
“You don't want this happening to other presidents,” he said. “It happened to Al Gore. It happened to Bush. It happened to Donald Trump now.”
Bassett has heard the arguments on the other side, about why the election results are legitimate. He’s been getting into debates with his girlfriend, who he describes as a flaming liberal, but so far she hasn’t changed his mind.
“It boggles my brain. Most of it, some of it, I go, ‘OK, that's fair. I get it.’ But most of it, I just, I just completely disagree with. So it's a matter of perspective,” he said.
On the issue of the election outcome, it can feel like people on opposite sides are living in different realities.
“I think it’s despicable they’re trying to do that,” said unaffiliated voter Bruce Egelson of the congressional objections. He backed Biden in the presidential race but said he has voted for Republicans in the past. “I think there's no evidence of voter fraud whatsoever. And anybody that thinks that there is, is just deluding themselves.”
But Egelson and the Republican voters did agree on one thing: The election has left the country deeply divided and they don’t see a clear way forward.
“It used to be when the Republicans won, it was like, ‘Oh, well, you know, we'll get over it and we'll win the next time’. But now it's like, everybody's willing to go to war because their guy didn't win,” he said. “It's crazy. It's just crazy times in this country.”
While the counting of the electoral votes is likely to be a turbulent day in Washington, with long debates inside the Capitol and streets full of protesters outside, in Colorado some Republican voters are striking a note of resignation.
“I'll accept it,” said Republican Crystal Lee, a nurse and mother of two who believes Trump won. “I don't necessarily believe it was a completely fair thing, but we need to fix it for the next election. That's my takeaway, basically.”
When asked what they want fixed these Republican voters pointed to a need for independent audits, bipartisan teams observing the election process, and paper ballots — safeguards many of the contested states already have.
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