The RNC launches a massive effort to monitor the vote. Critics say it threatens to undermine trust

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Michigan. (AP) – The Republican National Committee launched a swing state initiative Friday to mobilize thousands of poll watchers, election workers and lawyers to serve as “election integrity” watchdogs in November — an effort that immediately sparked concerns that it could lead to harassment. election workers and undermine confidence in the vote.

The RNC says its plan will help voters have confidence in the electoral process and ensure their votes count. Yet as former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to propagate false allegations that the 2020 elections were tainted by widespread fraudThis effort also paves the way for a repeat of Trump’s efforts to undermine the results – a gamble that ultimately led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the US Capitol.

Trump’s allies have already signaled they may not accept the results if he loses to President Joe Biden.

The RNC said His new efforts will focus on stopping “Democratic attempts to bend the rules.” The party will deploy observers to observe every step of the election process, create hotlines for poll observers to report perceived problems, and escalate these issues through legal action.

The national party says it hopes to recruit 100,000 volunteers — a figure that some election experts say would be difficult to achieve, even in a high-profile presidential election year.

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RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said Friday the committee would place election integrity directors in 15 states, including the most contested battlegrounds, and work with state parties to establish similar programs in other states.

“What we have to ensure is the integrity of our election process,” RNC co-chair Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, said at the launch event in Bloomfield Hills, B.C. a crucial suburban county for winning Michigan. “We can never go back and repeat 2020, but we can learn from 2020.”

She said most of the RNC is currently focused on the committee’s election integrity agenda, which she called “one of a kind.”

Both parties have a long history of organizing supporters to serve as election observers, and the Democratic National Committee has said it is planning its own volunteer recruitment effort. Several election officials in presidential states said they believe this type of transparency and engagement is one of the best ways to help skeptics have confidence in the many safeguards built into the election process.

Still, the language surrounding the RNC’s efforts and how it is implemented could raise broader concerns if it evolved beyond normal political party organization, said David Becker, a former department lawyer of Justice who is executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

“Doing it in a way that feeds your voters with the idea that the election is going to be stolen, that prepares them to be angry if their candidate loses — that can be very dangerous,” Becker said.

Asset pushed false claims of election fraud in 2016 and 2020 and continues to predict rigged elections if he loses this year. At a rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, he said of Democrats: “The only way they can beat us is by cheating.”

“Don’t let them cheat,” he said. “Don’t let them do anything.”

RNC leadership – who Trump handpicked During a major overhaul of the committee earlier this year, he followed suit by foreseeing the potential for foul play in this year’s election. Lara Trump qualified her response on CNN earlier this month when asked if she would accept the results.

“I can tell you that yes, we will accept the results of this election if we believe it is free, fair and transparent,” she said. “And we’re working overtime to make sure that actually happens.” »

He was asked Friday if the committee planned to Challenge the electoral certification process In all the swing states, Trump could lose narrowly, Whatley said: “We’re not going to cross any of those bridges right now. »

For decades, the RNC has been limited in its ability to coordinate election monitoring and other election integrity activities by a federal court consent decree established to stop voter intimidation efforts supported by the Republicans. The decree was lifted in 2018.

The launch of the RNC initiative comes as the GOP faces a significant disadvantage Compared to Democrats in traditional political infrastructure on the ground in key states, such as campaign offices, community centers and canvassers. Biden’s campaign and its allies in the Democratic National Committee have opened hundreds of campaign offices across the country, while in many cases Republican officials are still waiting for the Trump campaign and the RNC to commit.

DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd said the DNC, “alongside our partners at the state and local level, will not let MAGA Republicans get away with these baseless attacks on our democracy, and we “We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that everyone.” Americans can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

The RNC kickoff event took place at the headquarters of the Oakland County GOP, one of Michigan’s most influential local parties. Oakland County is an affluent suburb of Detroit that for decades was one of Michigan’s premier swing counties.

Although the county has the highest number of Republican voters in the state, it has become increasingly Democratic in recent years, and Donald Trump lost the county in his two previous campaigns.

The RNC focused many of its pre-election challenges in Michigan, a state that Trump narrowly won in 2016 but lost to Biden in 2020. review by republican participants found that there was no widespread fraud in that year’s election and that Biden rightfully won the state. This corresponds to Comments, tell And checks in other battleground states where Trump contested his defeat, all affirming Biden’s victory.

Despite these facts, conspiracy theories about voting and voter fraud arose in Detroit, the state’s most populous city, when poll watchers and challengers became confrontational at the downtown convention center where the ballots were brought in and counted.

On Friday, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey called the behavior four years ago unacceptable and said there would be no repeat this year.

“You didn’t make it when we weren’t expecting you in 2020. Now that we’re expecting you, well, I’m not worried at all,” she told the AP on Friday. “Detroiters are not playing. We are tired of being harassed.

She said the new state law allowing one poll watcher for every eight poll workers will be enforced by federal agents and state and local law enforcement.

After Friday’s kickoff in Michigan, the RNC’s “Protect Your Vote” tour will hold events in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia, with more battleground state visits to follow .

Democrats and their allies in those states have questioned Republicans’ motives, pointing out that their repeated lies about the election have helped undermine public trust.

North Carolina State Representative. Allison Dahle, the ranking Democrat on the House Election Law Committee, said Republicans in her state should have focused on giving the State Board of Elections more resources, including hiring more staff, if they were so concerned with discouraging fraud.

“Voters would have more confidence in elections if Republicans stopped lying about them,” said Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia-based lawyer who has represented the Democratic Party and its candidates in high-profile election cases.


Associated Press writers Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta, Corey Williams in Detroit, Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin and Steve Peoples in Detroit contributed to this report. Swenson reported from New York.


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