Pro-Trump ‘vigilantes’ escalate Trump election lies with turnouts

Since donald trumpAfter the 2020 election defeat, the GOP appears to have officially adopted the “constituency strategy” championed by steve bannonwith the Republican National Committee would have establish a network of partisan poll watchers to challenge votes in future mid-terms. But alongside this more official campaign, something more like a vigilante effort is emerging; the relentless lies about voter fraud in 2020 have also led to less formal, citizen-led campaigns in several states to root out the alleged fraud. As the New York Times reportsTrump supporters in Arizona and at least nine other states have encouraged ballot box surveillance, which has become the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

The idea, say informal poll watchers, is to monitor the process to guard against improper “ballot harvesting” – a baseless claim that has gained traction on the right, in part thanks to a Dinesh D’Souza conspiratorial film on the subject. As I wrote in June, the RNC has recruited and trained poll watchers — as well as pro-party lawyers to help them — in swing states like Michigan, in an apparent effort to undermine the legitimacy of poll results. elections. But informal groups of Trump supporters are also undertaking similar work. In Arizona, voters “tailgated” near drop boxes during the primary to ward off so-called “voting mules” (which D’Souza agents and others insist without foundation submitted enough fake votes to sway Trump’s 2020 election to Joe Biden.)

These settlement plans have added to concerns about voter intimidation, as well as fears that the right could exploit the chaos in future election cycles to challenge unfavorable results. “What we’re going to be dealing with in 2022 is more of a citizen body of conspirators who have already decided there’s a problem and are now looking for evidence, or at least something they can turn into evidence, and use it to undermine confidence in the results they don’t like,” as Matthew Weillexecutive director of the election project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told the Time. “When your whole premise is that there are problems, every problem feels like a problem, especially if you have no idea what you’re looking at.”

The main surveillance in Arizona was supported by Republican leaders like Lake Kari, who won the party’s gubernatorial nomination, and others. “I was so happy to hear about all the vigilantes who want to camp in these drop boxes,” said the Republican state senator from Arizona. Kelly Townsend said at a legislative hearing in May, according to the Time. While they appeared to have only happened on a small scale, it was just a “dry run” for November, according to Melody Jennings, whose far-right group, Clean Elections USA, has claimed control of Arizona. And, like the Time points out that similar dropbox surveillance plans are sprouting up in several other states.

Citizen watch plans underscore how far Trump’s false ‘rigged election’ claims have taken root among Republicans — and the grave threat the big lie continues to pose to democracy, as historians group warned Biden during a meeting at the White House last week. Indeed, as Trump and his allies in Washington work to erode faith in the democratic process, Republicans in states across the country have enacted laws making it harder to vote, ordered costly and partisan audits, and sought to better control the elections. put democracy itself on the ballot in November. “A majority of Americans want us to keep our democracy and our political institutions to succeed,” as presidential historian Michael Beschloss, one of the experts who briefed Biden on the growing threats to democracy, wrote recently. “Our challenge now is to ensure that this commitment prevails. »

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