Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

GOP recruits poll monitors from suburban areas to monitor the vote in Democratic cities

By 37ci3 Jun29,2024



Republicans have made the suburbs a recruiting ground for their army Election day observersThe city has become the focus of conservative allegations of voter fraud, with plans to place some in Democratic centers.

The strategy has uniquely disruptive potential for voters and election workers this fall, given that nonpartisan election experts, volunteers, will be sent to monitor areas with different political and demographic makeups than their own, and potentially different protocols for voting and counting. newsletters.

“In addition to the risks of voter intimidation, I believe this strategy also has the potential to disrupt the election process in general,” said Jonathan Diaz, director of voting advocacy at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.

“In short, it is a good thing to have representatives from every political party and campaign observing the election processes. This is normal,” he said. “The problem comes when you make an effort that looks like hiring people to detect fraud that doesn’t exist.”

During the 2020 election, allegations of unsubstantiated Republican voter fraud have focused on major metropolitan areas, including places where black and Latino voters vote in battleground states, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Despite the widespread fraud not being discovered, the claims have remained a significant rallying point for right-wing elements who have spent the past four years building up the idea that it could happen again in 2024.

The Republican National Committee launched a private recruiting effort for him this month “Let’s protect voices” project – trying to place a 100,000 volunteer force and lawyers – with a number of measures, mainly in war zones, designed to register and start training People should be monitoring the vote. While the RNC isn’t moving all of its volunteers from suburban to urban areas, several of its primary recruitment events say it’s a key component of the strategy.

The GOP has so far held events in Oakland County, Michigan, a blue-leaning suburb outside Detroit; Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a swinging suburb outside Philadelphia; Nassau County, New York, an area that is redder in down-ballot races on Long Island; as well as in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.

All five areas are whiter and more Republican Oakland, Bucks, Nassau, Mecklenburg and Fulton counties have all gone Democratic in the last few presidential elections.

RNC officials said plans are also underway to hold events in or around Phoenix and Las Vegas early next week.

In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina, poll watchers can serve in any county as long as they are registered voters in the state. But in Pennsylvania and New York, they must serve only in the county where they are registered to vote.

“Where we put our people depends on state law,” RNC spokesman Gates McGavick said. “If a state has rules that you can only be a vote watcher in your county, obviously we follow that.”

Asked at a recent event whether the broader GOP strategy was to specifically recruit campaign volunteers from the suburbs and send them to cities to vote, RNC Michael Whatley explained that “if there’s a statewide ability to do that, then it’s open to – it’s clear. we will place them.”

McGavick added that “in states where it makes sense to split our bodies into larger cities, yes, they can come from areas outside the larger cities.”

Poll tracking is a normal part of elections involving both major parties. But nonpartisan election experts said Republicans are planning to send a watchdog out of town to states where it’s been allowed for years, which has been linked to voter fraud. It can sow widespread chaos in democratic cities.

“When you think about it [tens of thousands] I would have two main concerns with potential observers or poll watchers going from a suburban county to a more urban area, supposedly to watch for evidence of voter fraud, and the first is the potential for voter intimidation, especially given the dynamics of some of these racial communities and some of the issues being put forward after the 2020 election. charges,” said Diaz of the Campaign Legal Center.

A second concern, explained by Diaz et al., is that intrusive questioning, even if it is lawful and non-threatening, can still create widespread violations.

“Even if the voters themselves are not intimidated [watchers] don’t discourage people from voting, if you have election observers from outside the district or precinct questioning everything the election officials are doing, that can be a huge hindrance to the administration of the election. Diaz said.

Those efforts, he said, could “contribute to longer lines” or “put greater pressure on already underfunded election offices and polling station workers in most parts of the country.”

In 2020, for example, hundreds mostly White Republican and nonpartisan observers signed up to challenge the poll at the TCF Center in Detroit, where poll workers are overwhelmingly black. There are witnesses said in his sworn affidavits and interviews in which some pollsters expressed concern over the treatment of black workers, claiming that opponents of the white vote were harassing workers and accusing them of wrongdoing without evidence.

RNC spokesmen did not respond to questions about whether parts of the election integrity strategy could cause problems with the race and election operations. However, Whatley rejected any suggestion that the exercises contained any element of intimidation tactics.

“We are working hard at the front to make sure there is no intimidation of voters. We will respect the process. We’re going to respect the people who work at the polls and we’re going to respect the voters,” Whatley told reporters after an RNC event in Long Island.

Opaque but increasing effort

RNC officials declined to give the total recruitment numbers the effort has achieved so far. They have it too provided few details about the training, declined to answer questions about whether volunteers had or would receive training on how to manage differences in communities and protocols, and repeatedly refused to allow the media to observe training sessions.

Some session attendees who spoke to NBC News described them as thin on details and unlike previous instructions from local party officials on how best to perform poll monitor duties. Others said the sessions were just initial recruitment events and were told virtual ones would give them additional in-person and more detailed information.

Until 2018, the RNC’s poll tracking plans were significantly limited by the consent decree, which required it to seek court approval to prove any poll tracking was non-discriminatory. This meant that the party’s 2020 efforts were the first in decades. And the Republicans Attempt to recruit 50,000 volunteers during this period, specific organizational and personal training efforts were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Republican strategists and poll workers said they have no problem recruiting volunteers to urban areas to monitor elections as long as they follow the rules.

The problem, many say, only arises when unsanctioned groups take control of polling stations. In 2022, this includes the right wing groups Like USA’s Clean Elections in Arizona.

“I don’t know that having two monitors at every polling place is a problem, you know, I think they’ll see that it’s not a problem,” said Arizona Republican strategist Barrett Marson.

“I see a big difference between, for example, monitors affiliated with one party and these walking gangs of armed civilians who consider themselves to be lawmen,” he said, referring to Clean Elections USA.

Whatley noted that the party’s election integrity efforts have actually grown beyond the RNC.

He said following the RNC’s recent event on Long Island that we are “interfacing” and “having a lot of conversations” with Trump-aligned outside groups, including the America First Policy Institute, about election integrity and the hiring of a poll monitor.

“We will talk and work with anyone who wants to have an organization that takes election integrity seriously,” he said.

Ashley Hayek, executive director of America First Works, the advocacy arm of AFPI’s election integrity efforts, said the group conducts recruitment efforts and training on its own poll monitoring, and encourages people to participate in the organization’s training. RNC.

Asked if his group’s training taught participants how not to intimidate voters or disrupt the voting process, Hayek said, “Everyone who’s been a part of our program has been a senior citizen who wants to make sure every citizen is registered to vote and casts a vote. a ballot that counts once.”

Hayek said AFW only plans to recruit volunteers for its efforts in areas where volunteers live.

Bill Gates is the elected Republican election official in Maricopa County, Arizona Facing threats in the 2020 and 2022 elections, He said he wasn’t bothered by any of the national GOP’s strategies, but said the problem was that it rested on one fundamental lie.

“It doesn’t matter what the intent is, as long as they’re following the law, as long as they’re exercising the right they have to follow,” he said of the RNC’s election integrity efforts.

“But to the extent that people are being told, ‘The 2020 election has been stolen, so you need to get involved in this effort,’ that worries me,” he said. does not participate in the re-election This year, due to the threats to his position in the last election cycles. “That’s not participating in that effort — they’re being lied to about what’s happening in 2020.”

Repeatedly debunked allegations of widespread election fraud in 2020, however, have been the focus of Whatley’s speeches at the RNC’s election integrity events.

“What happened in 2020 cannot happen again,” he said at a June 21 event in Westbury, NY.




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