For Republican officials, in Nevada and elsewhere, this was the story they’d been waiting for.
Finally, there was proof of some criminal finding a flaw in the system and casting a dead woman’s ballot. For much of the right, this wasn’t just an instance of voter fraud; this was the instance of voter fraud.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson told his viewers last November, in reference to the Hartle matter, “In moments like this truth really matters more than ever. False allegations of fraud can cause as much damage as the fraud itself…. So we want to be accurate. What we’re about to tell you is accurate. It is not a theory. It happened and we can prove it.”
He proceeded to highlight the Hartle case, which the host said the “news media” is “hiding” in order to help then-President-elect Joe Biden.
The Fox News anchor was hardly alone. Dinesh D’Souza, a far-right provocateur, published a tweet last November that read, “[Donald Kirk Hartle] was SHOCKED when he found out his wife, who died in 2017, just voted in the 2020 election. Are you really going to tell me voter fraud doesn’t exist?” The Nevada Republican Party also seized on the case — and admonished news organizations for not doing the same.
But the entire controversy recently started to unravel when Donald Kirk Hartle was accused of being the one responsible for casting his late wife’s ballot.
And today, as he pleads guilty, the foundational case for Republican conspiracy theorists will evaporate.
That in turn will leave me with a couple of questions. First, will there be any apologies from those who seized on this case as proof of systemic flaws in our system of elections?
I’m guessing the answer is no.
And second, will Donald Kirk Hartle receive a lighter sentence than Texas’ Crystal Mason?
I’m guessing the answer is yes.
March 20, 2014
September 30, 2017