Supporters of President Donald Trump have called for a boycott of the crucial Georgia Senate runoff elections in a move that threatens Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to restrain President-elect Joe Biden.
The two Georgia runoff elections, scheduled for January 5 with early voting starting on December 14, will determine control of the Senate, meaning Biden's ability to push through a Democratic agenda under his first term. But a number of pro-Trump Republicans have taken to Parler, the "free-speech" social media platform, to discourage members of their own party from voting.
Screenshots shared by reporter Marcus Baram showed Trump supporters invoking a conspiracy theory about "rigged" voting machines to urge a boycott of the upcoming elections in Georgia. "Don't vote! Don't be part of the corruption" one post read.
"DO NOT VOTE IN THE GEORGIA RUNOFFS, THE DEEP STATE WILL BE COLLECTING EVERYONE'S INFO. THIS IS A CHARADE, MEANT TO IDENTIFY PEOPLE WHO DON'T VOTE DEMOCRAT," another user wrote. "STAY HOME. OSSOFF AND WARNOCK ARE A SMALL PRICE TO PAY."
Democrats, who hold a majority in the House, need just two more seats in the Senate for a 50-50 split. If Biden is inaugurated in January, then Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie breaking vote in the upper chamber. "I'm not certain I'm the majority leader yet—as you all may have noticed—that will be determined in Georgia," McConnell said earlier this month.
At least one of the two Republican incumbents in the race, Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, will have to hold onto their seat for the party to retain their majority.
Biden has secured 306 Electoral College votes in the presidential election, surpassing the 270 needed to win, but Trump has refused to concede. With 232 Electoral College votes, the president has alleged without evidence that widespread voter fraud resulted in his opponent's victory. He has also filed a series of lawsuits in various battleground states in an attempt to flip the three states needed for his victory.
The lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful. However, Trump's claims of a "rigged" election has prompted distrust in the election process among his base, an outcome that could hinder his party's chances in Georgia in January.
"THE ONLY WAY OUR VOICES GET HEARD IS by #boycott the vote," one Trump supporter wrote on Parler.
"#WALKAWAY FROM RINOS BRAIN KEMP AND BRAD RAFFENSBERGER. BRAIN AND BRAD THINK THEY CAN USE DOMINION VOTE MACHINES TO ELECT CRAZY WARNOCK AND LIDDLE JON OSSOFF. IF ALL PATRIOTS BOYCOTT RIGGED #GASEN ELECTION, THE SUPREME COURT WILL ORDER A REVOTE! #ElectionFraud #KAG #HoldTheLine," another added.
On Thursday, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that Biden remained ahead of Trump after a recount. With that news, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, who's running against Perdue, called on his party to shift their focus to helping him and Rev. Raphael Warnock, Loeffler's challenger.
"Our work isn't done, Georgia," he said. "We still need to organize, mobilize and register voters like we've never done it before. Let's get it done."
Newsweek reached out to McConnell's office for comment.
Update 11/21/2020 10:33 p.m. ET: This story previously stated that Biden has 290 Electoral College votes, an outdated figure. Biden now has 306 Electoral College votes. Newsweek regrets the error.