Coming to a polling place near you—especially if you live in a battleground state: Republican poll workers trained by conspiracy theorists. No, really, take it from the absolutely-not-liberals over at Politico:
“The Republican National Committee has been relying on a stable of the party’s most prolific spreaders of false stolen-election theories to pilot a sweeping ‘election integrity’ operation to recruit and coach thousands of poll workers in eight battleground states.”
The effort is being led by Cleta Mitchell, one of the lawyers who worked directly with Donald Trump to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Mitchell was even on the phone call in which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes.” And in addition to her role in an attempted coup, Heidi Przybyla reports that Mitchell has been using “great replacement” theory-flavored rhetoric at “Election Integrity Network” summits held as part of the larger effort to train 15,000 Republican poll workers.
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Mitchell has railed against Democratic efforts to expand voter registration and register voters from underrepresented groups like young people, people of color, and unmarried women. “There was a book ‘Brown Is the New White’ talking about changing demographics in America was going to render conservatives obsolete,” she said at one event.
”That is their goal,” she said, “they” being Democrats and allied groups. “They believe you can expand access to democracy by underrepresented populations.”
Cleta Mitchell is definitely not about expanding the access of underrepresented populations to anything that might increase their power. And democracy? Here’s what she thinks about that:
“They bring democracy to your doorstep. I wanna pause right here. We don’t live in a democracy. But to the left, everything is about democracy, the democracy fund, the democracy this, the democracy that.”
This is the voice of Republican efforts to train poll workers to police “election integrity.” Not the integrity of the results of an election that doesn’t go their way. As Mitchell has shown, she believes those elections should be overturned by pressuring state officials. No, the “integrity” Republicans want is ensuring that the wrong people don’t get to vote, or have their votes counted, to begin with.
It’s not just Mitchell, though. Other players in the Republican “election integrity”/create an “army” of partisan poll workers mission include a Pennsylvania statewide director who has spread QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories, an Arizona statewide leader who runs a group that published the names, birthdates, and addresses of millions of voters, and a Florida leader who suggested that Wisconsin service union workers may have cast votes for nursing home residents with dementia.
Democrats have no equivalent plan—not even one based on facts rather than conspiracy theories—to recruit and train poll workers. This means that the Republican “army” trained in racism and conspiracy theories will be out there in force, without the counterbalance of poll workers rigorously trained in promoting democracy and protecting voting rights. We don’t want Democrats training people up in lies, but once again, we see how Republicans are looking at the levers of power and organizing to use them while Democrats trust that goodwill and basic decency will prevail.
Want to fight voter suppression? Sign up to volunteer as a poll worker this November with Power the Polls, and they will get you connected.
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