As early voting takes place in Virginia's Nov. 2 elections, The Washington Post reports that Republican "poll watchers" are turning out in droves to, well, watch the polls. Republican watchers are "often outnumbering Democrats 2 to 1 at each location," the Loudon County general registrar told the Post.
And yes, it's specifically because Republican leaders and candidates have goaded their base into a froth over supposed "election fraud." The new conservative volunteers are coming out to make sure, with their own eyes, that nobody tries any funny business.
Despite the whole effort being premised on paranoia, it so far doesn't seem like the new (ahem) Republican poll-watching influx is causing any substantial problems. The organization of poll-watching efforts appears to be sketchy as all get-out, with Republican representatives refusing to allow a reporter to watch the training session on offer; the prime groups pushing the effort, Virginians for America First, are crackpot groups specifically premised on the belief that their candidates only lost because of "fraud"; and "most trainees" unwilling to talk to the Post.
But when those fraud-searching volunteers are getting to precincts, it seems they're finding out for themselves what generations of volunteers before them could have told them: There ain't no fraud, and staffing the polls during elections is dull, dull work.
Welcome aboard, Republican volunteers! Hope you're ready to find out that the core of all Republican rhetoric—the thing leading to a full-on insurrection and attempted overthrow of the United States government—was a complete lie from beginning to end.
This is not, of course, how Republicans will spin the lack of found fraud. Failing to find fraud has never, at any point, kept lying Republican leaders from creating hoaxes claiming that fraud happened anyway. The official Republican position is that "fraud" is so very rampant that it affects, apparently, nearly every race Republicans lose, but that the entire collected body of Republicanism is just too incompetent to find any proof of it.
But it's still likely that even the most paranoid of Republican "poll watchers" will come away from the process feeling like their party's leadership has been blowing a lot of smoke this whole time.
We'll have to see what comes of this. There is not much good that can come from radicalizing the Republican base into believing that election workers are the nation's enemies. The most radical conservatives, however, likely won't be among these volunteers. The people who believe most in election "fraud" are people who wouldn't be caught dead volunteering to see if any of their claims are accurate.
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