Once again, a Republican "training session" for poll workers and observers doesn't just promote conspiracy theories about rigged voting, but also features the Republican hosts encouraging their partisans to break polling place rules once they're inside. This one comes to us from CNN, which reports on a Zoom-based training session held by Republican leaders in Wayne County, Michigan.
Specifically, Republican conspiracy crank leaders told the partisan trainees that they should "hide" cell phones and "maybe hide a small pad and small pen"—both clear violations of polling place rules.
Poll workers are not allowed to bring cell phones into polling places for numerous reasons, but primarily to prevent taking photographs or video of voters or their ballots. Pens are barred from the polling place to help prevent accidental or intentional spoiling of ballots via markings not made by the voters themselves. These are basic rules meant to prevent intimidation or flat-out election fraud.
So it stands to reason that Republican Party officials would declare that the rules don't apply to them and that their side should feel free to break them. Makes perfect sense. And the reason, the Republican trainers told their fellow partisans, is that the other side's invisible conspiracies are so vast that violating rules meant to protect voters and ballots is obviously necessary.
"It should not be illegal" in the first place, Wayne County Republican chair and trainer Cheryl Costantino told CNN afterward. How lovely of the Republican Party to just decide that on their own.
If Democratic poll watchers brought in cellphones and started snapping pics of voters or ballots, one would imagine Republicans would suddenly remember why those rules are in place. But if Republicans want to do it, apparently, then prohibiting it suddenly becomes another assault on their freedom.
The two Republicans who encouraged poll workers to "hide" phones and pens in order to smuggle them into polling places are Costantino and former state Senator Patrick Colbeck, reports CNN. Both are fervent election conspiracy theorists, hoax-promoters, and backers of a half-assed lawsuit claiming fraud that got booted out of court quickly by a judge who noted they had no evidence for any of their nonsense. And yes, these are the sort of people who now control county and state Republican parties all over the nation.
Again, can anyone even imagine the outrage if Democratic Party leaders held a call in which they encouraged partisan conspiracy cranks to smuggle recording devices into polling places? The resulting Jim Jordan stroke would have U.S. Capitol workers trying to scrape the remains of his prostate off the House woodwork. You'd have James O'Whatever clawing his way into television studios while costumed as Ben Franklin's third-best horse.
But Republicanism has now so convinced itself that it is the victim of all-encompassing and international conspiracies against it that there's nothing a Republican can do that counts as illegal. Violating election rules is “necessary,” just like Donald Trump making off with the nation's top national security secrets is "necessary." If a Republican wants to do it, that means it should be legal now.
Yeah, I mean, sure. If you're going to argue that Donald has every right to give a top-secret summary of Israel's nuclear capabilities to Saudi financiers in exchange for a bailout to his son-in-law, if and when that turns out to be part of what's been going on here, then a rule like "you're not allowed to bring recording devices with you when observing voting booths" isn't going to hold much weight. These people just don't inhabit the same plane of reality as the rest of us anymore.
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