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Tipsheet

Democratic Governor Announces Plans to Ban Politicians From Spreading Election ‘Lies’

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that he is supporting legislation that would “outlaw attempts by candidates and elected officials to to spread lies about free and fair elections when it has the likelihood to stoke violence,” according to a news release shared by Inslee’s office.

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In Inslee’s announcement, he stated that the Jan. 6 Capitol riots are a reminder of “an ongoing coup attempt by candidates and elected officials to overturn our democracy.” The legislation, which is currently being drafted and has yet to be released, would make it a gross misdemeanor for elected officials to lie about election results with knowledge that there’s potential to provoke violence.

“Soon, legislation will be introduced in the state House and Senate that would make it a gross misdemeanor for candidates and elected officials to knowingly lie about elections. The proposed law is narrowly tailored to capture only those false statements that are made for the purpose of undermining the election process or results and is further limited to lies that are likely to incite or cause lawlessness," Inslee said in the announcement.

“This legislation attempts to follow the relevant U.S. and state supreme court opinions on this issue. We’re talking about candidates and elected officers knowingly throwing bombs at democracy itself when doing so is likely to result in violence,” Inslee added. “We can outlaw actions that provoke political violence and in doing so also protect our democracy. There is more that can be done by states and Congress to protect our democracy. I am open to any proposal that will protect the will of the voters and the institutions they use to decide who governs them.”

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According to a report by Fox News, it is not clear yet how a “lie” would be defined or how it would be decided whether it is a lie that could incite violence.

The Seattle Times noted that it’s not clear if this kind of legislation would pass “constitutional muster,” as the Washington State Supreme Court has previously “rejected efforts to ban lies by political candidates.”

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