We learned for the first time on Thursday that Trump election deniers are training thousands of poll “observers” around the country, many of whom have been recruited by “prominent” Republican Party figures.

‘Stop the steal’ supporters train thousands of U.S. poll observers, Reuters reported Thursday. “Reuters
documented multiple incidents of intimidation involving an expanding army of election observers, many of them recruited by prominent Republican Party figures and activists echoing Trump’s false theories about election fraud.”

In case anyone is wondering if these folks are rational, Reuters quotes a Republican election clerk saying an election denying poll watching group prayed for “evil to descend” on the “election team” in Colorado as they did their job in a recount in a Republican primary, brought on by… Republican candidates who “claimed the primary was fraudulent.”

Election denial never made sense when done by the people who won their race in the same election they claim Trump lost his due to fraud, but now the paranoia and undermining of trust in our electoral system (a longtime goal of Putin’s) is spreading to create Republican V Republican accusations.

Reuters reports that election officials in North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada reported similar incidents. Additionally, there’s co-mingling: “Election conspiracy groups also often appear at events with Republican officials, focused on recruiting volunteers to help watch the polls, according to the groups themselves and county officials.”

This is alarming and yet somehow not being covered with the same level of angst being displayed over President Biden using three words when he said he was going to use two.

Republicans bringing delusional anti-democracy as their Big 2022 Energy makes sense given that 299 of the Republican candidates running for office deny the very established fact Trump lost the most secure election in modern history, aka, the 2020 election.

What to do when your party is running two extremist, one of whom isn’t from your state and was caught on audio saying all abortion is murder and the other of whom hangs out with anti-Semite neo-Nazis, doesn’t believe in elections decided by voters, and criticizes other Christians if they dare to disagree with him? (Dr. Oz and Doug Mastriano, for those not familiar.) Rigging the vote with voter intimidation might come to mind, given that the candidates can’t run on policy and Republicans don’t trust Oz and only the most extreme Trump supporters like Mastriano.

To that end, Andrea Raffle, the Republican National Committee’s director for election integrity in Pennsylvania, told participants (Reuters was on the call) during an early October Zoom meeting put on by “an election-denying group called Audit the Vote PA” they had already filled 6,000 poll watcher positions Pennsylvania this year, “compared with 1,000 in 2020. Raffle referred a request for comment to the RNC’s national office.”

If you can’t win it, rig it. That’s the 2022 Republican platform. There’s no both-siding this. Republicans are encouraging and participating in attempts to intimidate voters that they think won’t be voting for them and invalidate election results that aren’t likely to go their way.

Admitted election deniers working with the Republican Party to train “poll watchers” translates as ‘Certain kinds of people in certain areas can expect to be harassed when they’re trying to vote. Again. But worse than ever before.’

Voter intimidation is against federal law and many states have their own laws protecting voters. The ACLU breaks down examples of intimidation:

• aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to
vote , in a manner intended to interfere with the voters’ rights
• falsely presenting oneself as an elections official
• spreading false information about voter requirements, such as an ability to speak English, or the
need to present certain types of photo identification (in states with no such requirement)
• displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and the related criminal penalties
• other harassment, particularly toward non-English speakers and voters of color

We saw this in 2020 in Detroit, for example. This isn’t new but it is going to be ramped up.

One of the reasons media might appear to be downplaying this obvious threat is simply putting it out there as something that might happen can have a chilling effect on turnout. In previous years, this has been a real internal battle.

However, we now face a literal attempt by Republicans to takeover the United States democracy and replace it with Hungarian style autocracy or what is called “electoral autocracy” – that’s where you have elections, but they don’t mean anything. It’s basically a pretense election, in which Dear Leader gets the outcome he wants. Which is exactly what Republicans are trying to do.

“We’re living through a hostile takeover of the greatest experiment in self-governance in history and most people don’t even know it’s happening and the rest are either egging it on or too busy to deal or in denial—and every day we get closer to never getting our independence back,” Luke Zalesky, Legal Affairs Editor at Condé Nast wrote on Twitter over the Reuters story.

We’ve heard similar warnings from Rachel Maddow and others. It is not hysteria; Republicans taking lessons from Viktor Orban is actually happening. Their attempt to steal the 2020 election happened and resulted in a violent attempted coup on January 6th. They didn’t lose that and then return to their senses; they lost that attempt to steal an election and came up with plans on how to better steal an election next time.

The best response to these threats is to be armed with the knowledge and be prepared to counter it. We can do this. Yes, We Can.

If you see anyone being intimidated while approaching a polling place or while trying to vote, report it.

Sign up to be an election protection volunteer
Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA
DOJ Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971

Sarah Jones

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