Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Sunday sparred with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos as she voiced suspicions of voter fraud in the presidential election, echoing similar unsubstantiated claims by President Trump.
Noem edged up to the claim during an interview on ABC’s “This Week”, veering off-course when asked by host Stephanopoulos if she was prepared to work with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden to combat a surge of coronavirus cases in her state.
“This is all premature,” said Noem, whose state overwhelmingly voted to re-elect Trump. “This is a premature conversation because we have not finished counting votes.”
On Saturday, major outlets called Pennsylvania and Nevada for Biden, pushing him past the presidency-clinching number of 270 electoral votes to 279 — or 290 if counting Arizona, which Fox News and the Associated Press have also called for the Democrat.
“Election Day needs to be fair, honest and transparent, and we need to be sure that we had an honest election before we decide who gets to be in the White House the next four years,” said Noem.
Pressed if she had any hard evidence of widespread fraud in the election, Noem instead pointed to smaller-scale allegations without providing specifics.
“People have signed legal documents, affidavits, stating that they saw illegal activities,” she said. “I don’t know how widespread it is. I don’t know if it will change the outcome of the election. But why is everybody so scared just to have a fair election and find out?”
Noem repeatedly invoked the thorough accounting that took place in the aftermath of the razor-thin 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
“Why would we not afford the 70.6 million Americans that voted for President Trump the same consideration?” asked Noem. “If Joe Biden really wants to unify this country, he would wait and make sure that we can prove we had a fair election.”
As Stephanopoulos pointed out, the fateful gap between Bush and Gore was confined to a few hundred votes in one state, Florida.
Biden has opened up a lead of 76 electoral votes over Trump including Arizona, with margins in some contested states in the tens of thousands of votes.
“That’s what I think is interesting, is this declaration from some individuals saying it was an overwhelming victory for Joe Biden. It simply wasn’t,” claimed Noem, who during the Republican National Convention drew similarities between the challenges faced by Trump and President Lincoln. “You have so any of these states that are still in play. All I’m asking for, George, is that we don’t break this country.
“When you break the process on which we elect our leaders, you will break America forever,” she said.
Responded Stephanopoulos, “It starts with providing evidence. You still have not provided that.”