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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Should Prep for Intimidation at Polls

In her Politico article, “‘It’s going to be an army’: Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections: Placing operatives as poll workers and building a “hotline” to friendly attorneys are among the strategies to be deployed in Michigan and other swing states,” Heidi Przbyla reports on Republican plans for confrontations at the polls and for influencing midterm election results. As Przbyla writes:

“Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys.

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?”

Przbyla adds that “election watchdog groups and legal experts say many of these recruits are answering the RNC’s call because they falsely believe fraud was committed in the 2020 election, so installing them as the supposedly unbiased officials who oversee voting at the precinct level could create chaos in such heavily Democratic precincts.”

Przbyla notes further, “Democratic National Committee spokesperson Ammar Moussa said the DNC “trains poll watchers to help every eligible voter cast a ballot,” but neither the DNC nor the state party trains poll workers. The DNC did help recruit poll workers in 2020 due to a drop-off in older workers amid the pandemic; but he says it is not currently doing so and has never trained poll workers to contest votes.

One of the most chilling revelations of Przbyla’s article: ““Come election day you create massive failure of certification” in Democratic precincts, Penniman said. “The real hope is that you can throw the choosing of electors to state legislatures.”

Also, “Of all former President Donald Trump’s battleground-state allies, Republican operatives in the state of Michigan came the closest to throwing the 2020 election — and the nation — into a constitutional crisis. So many volunteer challengers overwhelmed Detroit’s TCF Center, where votes were being counted, that police intervened because Covid safety protocols had been breached.” The plan also includes directions for “How to challenge a voter,” with detailed instructions.

Przbyla’s article focused on Michigan. But it’s likely that similar plans are being made in other battleground states and districts.

Some things Dems or progressives can do to prepare for Republican challenges:

  1. Amp up early voting. Encourage more voters to bank their ballots as early as possible.

  2. Expand and enhance legal teams to confront Republican legal scams and intimidation at the polls.

  3. Run ads to make sure the public knows who is threatening violence at the polls.

  4. Mobilize cell phone squads to make videos of intimidation.

  5. Get some union members, who will not be intimidated by goons, to staff the polls.

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