- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 2, 2022

Republicans are deploying a legion of recruits nationwide to serve as poll workers this year, a new strategy that party officials say will finally give it a robust Election Day presence in Democratic bastions such as Detroit.

The Republican National Committee said it is spending millions of dollars on the operation, which will include 16 state “election integrity” directors, 26 in-state election integrity lawyers and more than 10,000 poll workers and poll watchers in battleground states.

RNC officials say the operation is ensuring that states and municipalities follow the rules on voter ID, requirements for counting mail-in ballots and other election laws.

“People want to feel security in the results of an election,” said Danielle Alvarez, communications director at the RNC. “That’s why these programs are set up — so that there can be poll watchers and poll workers representing both parties to make sure that elections are transparent, to make sure that they’re secure, to make sure that the rules are being followed for all people.”

The move follows the 2018 lifting of a consent decree that barred the party for decades from conducting election operations.

It also comes on the heels of persistent, unproven accusations by former President Donald Trump and some others on the right that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud benefiting President Biden.

Liberals are fanning fears that Republicans are carrying out a scheme to interfere with voters in heavily Democratic precincts.

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Ammar Moussa said on Twitter that the RNC “is training poll workers on how to challenge and throw votes out.”

Amanda Litman, founder of the liberal advocacy group Run for Something, tweeted, “Election subversion in 2022 & 2024 will not look like a mob at the Capitol. It’ll happen in city halls and county boards, one person and one precinct at a time.”

Republicans say the Democratic National Committee has had the playing field to itself in sending forth an “army of poll watchers” since 1982, when a federal court issued the consent decree as a settlement of accusations of voter intimidation by the RNC in a New Jersey governor’s race.

They say it gave Democrats an advantage on recounts and other tactics, such as repeatedly contacting voters to make sure they registered and sent in ballots.

“Democrats have been deploying poll workers for years. We are only trying to get a seat at the same table,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “At the TCF Center in 2020 [where absentee ballots were counted], just 170 of the more than 5,400 Detroit poll workers were Republicans. In states like Michigan, poll watchers are part of the law and legal process in place to ensure transparency and secure election integrity.”

Ms. Alvarez said in an interview that “the reality is that for 40 years, Democrats have had a monopoly on Election Day operations. … This really, truly is the first election cycle where the RNC is standing up an election integrity operation from start to finish now that we are out from under the consent decree.”

RNC officials pushed back against a report this week by Politico that the operation involves “party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places.”

While Republicans are recruiting poll workers, state and county election boards are training all poll workers on election rules and procedures.

Democrats also are expressing alarm that allies of Mr. Trump are holding “election integrity” summits such as one in Detroit last month organized by the Election Integrity Network, chaired by conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell.

She served as a volunteer attorney for the Trump legal team in Georgia in contesting the 2020 election results. Ms. Mitchell did not return a request for comment.

In addition, Mr. Trump this year praised Republicans’ “precinct strategy” as “an incredible effort underway that will strengthen the Republican Party.”

“The ‘Precinct Strategy’ is enlisting America First Patriots to their local County Republican Party committees, positions which are too often left vacant,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “If members of our Great movement start getting involved (that means YOU becoming a precinct committeeman for your voting precinct), we can take back our great Country from the ground up.”

He called it “a great way to restore our Republic by transforming our Party from currently at less than half-strength at the precinct level into a full-strength Get Out The Vote powerhouse — as it should be.”

RNC officials say higher voter turnout this year in primaries in Georgia, Virginia and Texas have refuted Democrats’ accusations that the RNC’s election integrity operation is seeking to disenfranchise or discourage voters.

In Texas, where Republicans say they scheduled about 4,500 shifts of poll workers and poll watchers statewide, turnout was 2.93 million, up from 2.56 million votes in 2018.

“The facts just don’t back what Democrats are claiming,” Ms. Alvarez said.

The DNC also recruits poll workers. In a 2019 webinar, a party official told potential recruits that “the goal of a poll worker is to ensure the execution of a fair and just election. We want Election Day to run smoothly, but we can’t do it without you.”

Ms. Moussa said the Democratic Party provides “info on how to be a poll worker.” She said on Twitter that there is a “clear difference between priorities” between the DNC’s operation and that of the RNC.

Rules vary by jurisdiction, but in general, poll workers are paid to make sure polling places open on time on Election Day, ensure that voting machines are working correctly, verify voters’ IDs and carry out other duties.

Poll watchers are party volunteers who monitor the polling place and, for example, might alert party officials if a polling place in Virginia is improperly turning away voters for not wearing face masks.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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