As some wit famously said of Nixon, he was so crooked he needed a cork screw to put on his trousers. The GOP has taken that lesson to heart:
The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts. “Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger,” said Matthew Seifried, the RNC’s election integrity director for Michigan, stressing the importance of obtaining official designations as poll workers in a meeting with GOP activists in Wayne County last Nov. 6. It is one of a series of recordings of GOP meetings between summer of 2021 and May of this year obtained by POLITICO.
Backing up those front-line workers, “it’s going to be an army,” Seifried promised at an Oct. 5 training session. “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?” Seifried also said the RNC will hold “workshops” and equip poll workers with a hotline and website developed by Zendesk, a software support company used by online retailers, which will allow them to live-chat with party attorneys on Election Day. In a May 2022 training session, he said he’d achieved a goal set last winter: More than 5,600 individuals had signed up to be poll workers and, several days ago, he submitted an initial list of more than 850 names to the Detroit clerk.
That’s not a plan to contest elections, that’s a plan to prevent elections.
Here’s the crystalline summation of the plan and why we should be worried:
“This is completely unprecedented in the history of American elections that a political party would be working at this granular level to put a network together,” said Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, an election watchdog group. “It looks like now the Trump forces are going directly after the legal system itself and that should concern everyone.”
Our pals over at Electoral-Vote have devoted a segment of their morning email thingie to this story:
Friendly poll workers and friendly lawyers who can advise them on the phone are only front line. The next level is the Amistad Project, a self-described election “integrity” group that has worked with Rudy Giuliani in the past. Their focus is recruiting friendly local district attorneys who can intervene on Election Day. A D.A. could threaten an election supervisor with prison for doing something the D.A. didn’t like, even though it might be legal. The threat alone could dissuade the election supervisor from doing it even if the supervisor knew the election law better than the D.A. One area that is certain to be targeted is making sure that plenty of Republican-friendly poll workers are chosen, even in areas with hardly any Republican voters. State law often requires some kind of balance between the parties and the D.A. might have a different idea of what this means in a heavily Democratic area than the local election supervisor.
Nick Penniman, CEO of the election watchdog group Issue One, is concerned that partisan poll workers could simply initiate a legal conflict at the polling place that might cause a friendly judge to later invalidate all the votes from that precinct. Penniman is worried that if there is enough confusion at enough precincts, the state legislature might decide to just ignore the election results as tainted and appoint its own slate of electors that a friendly Congress might just accept. As it often is, we have asymmetric warfare here. The DNC also helps recruit poll workers, but it doesn’t have an elaborate training program that helps them prevent people from voting in heavily Republican areas.
As Joseph Stalin once said: “It’s not who votes that count. It’s who counts the votes.”