Donald Trump called for supporters to head to the polls and “watch very carefully” ahead of the 2020 election. He lost, badly, and the former president and the Republican Party are now taking a far more aggressive approach ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections. Trump has been working to install election conspiracy theorists in office, Republican legislatures have been passing restrictive voting legislation, and the GOP has been trying to seize control of voting systems. Politico reported on Wednesday, for instance, that the Republican National Committee wants activists to not only watch the polls, as Trump called for in 2020, but to work at them.
Video recordings obtained by the outlet show that the RNC is working to recruit people to work at polling places in Democratic areas and put them in touch with party attorneys so that they can potentially challenge votes. “Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger,” Matthew Seifried, the RNC’s election integrity director in Michigan, said in one of the recordings. He added that there’s “going to be an army” ready to back up conservative poll workers. “We’re going to have more lawyers than we’ve ever recruited, because let’s be honest, that’s where it’s going to be fought, right?” he said during a planning meeting last October.
A slide from a training presentation bills the plan as a way to “make it easy to vote and HARD TO CHEAT,” but as the experts Politico spoke to note, conservatives chomping at the bit to participate are likely going to be of the belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and dropping them into official positions in Democratic hotbeds could create havoc.
Trump, too, said he only wanted free and fair elections as he worked to overturn the results of one he lost. Republican officials have said the same as they’ve pushed measure that will only make it harder for Americans to vote, including a recent, potentially illegal push to do away with electronic voting machines. “Every state should follow the lead of the patriots in Arizona,” Trump said during a rally in Ohio in April, referring to a lawsuit filed by far-right candidates seeking to ban the use of electronic voting machines unless they’re investigated for manipulation. (There is no evidence significant fraud took place in the 2020 election, by way of manipulated voting machines or otherwise.)
The bottom line for the modern Republican Party, however, is not election integrity, but their candidates winning. Trump on Tuesday pushed an article alleging Brian Kemp’s 50-point primary win in Georgia was fraudulent, while refraining to cast doubt Herschel Walker’s win in the same state by a similar margin. Democrats want their candidates to win, too, and have certainly mobilized activists to help the cause in various ways, including by observing elections, but the year and change since the 2020 election has proved that for the Republican Party, the democratic process is more of an inconvenience to be subverted than anything to be held sacred. There’s plenty of reporting to suggest the GOP has been working hard to tip the scales ahead of the midterms and beyond.