Eight state Republican parties are actively recruiting for Donald Trump's 2020 Election Day voter suppression efforts.
Trump's reelection campaign and its allies are aiming to recruit up to 50,000 volunteers to challenge any votes and voters they deem suspicious in targeted states, as the New York Times reported recently. This is part of a $20 million effort to undermine voting rights and make it difficult to participate in the November election.
The effort comes, the paper noted, after the expiration of a decades-old court order prohibiting the Republican Party from suppressing minority voting under the guise of preventing fraud.
A review of GOP state party websites found at least eight are directly seeking volunteers for the current suppression efforts. Several are using virtually identical language.
"Our Election Day Operation (EDO) is designed to ensure that everyone that is legally entitled to vote has the opportunity to vote, ONCE! As an EDO volunteer, you will be trained on the elections laws of Rhode Island," the Republican Party of Rhode Island wrote on its site. (Trump lost Rhode Island by a 54.4 percent to 38.9 percent margin in 2016.)
"You do not have to be a lawyer, you just have to know the rules and we will provide an organized network of assistance to all of our volunteers. Once you are trained, we will coordinate getting you credentialed to work the upcoming election," the website explains.
The page encourages people to sign up to "JOIN the EDO Army For Trump NOW!" A link goes directly to the Trump campaign's "Army For Trump" website.
The Republican Party of New Mexico has a similar recruitment message on its site: "Our Election Day Operation (EDO) is designed to ensure that everyone who is legally entitled to vote has the opportunity to vote, ONCE! As an EDO volunteer, you will be trained on the election laws of New Mexico."
The Kansas Republican Party page changes the language slightly to reference "the election laws of Kansas."
The Nevada Republican Party appears to have posted the template without bothering to customize it.
"As an EDO volunteer, you will be trained on the election laws of STATE," its page says.
A message on the Georgia Republican Party site states, "Making sure the election is free from fraud is one of Chairman David Shafer's top priorities. Working with the President's re-election campaign, we are in the process of building out the most extensive Election Day Operations (EDO) effort in the history of Georgia."
The Maine Republican Party page asks volunteers to "assist Team Trump" with "identifying, training, and deploying poll watchers and lawyers to ensure every voter who is allowed to vote, gets to vote on Election Day."
Without a direct link, a message on the Idaho Republican Party page also claims the party "trains and places poll watchers in key locations who field complaints of voter fraud and intimidation."
While often cited as an excuse for voter suppression laws, voter fraud is virtually non-existent in the United States. Studies have found that people are more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to commit voter fraud at a polling place.
While the GOP has pushed to make it difficult for citizens — especially minority voters — to exercise their right to vote, the Democratic Party platform explicitly states that "we must make it easier to vote, not harder."
The Democratic National Committee announced earlier this month that it is "making critical investments" in infrastructure "to safeguard the right of every eligible voter to protect their voting status and easily participate in our democratic process."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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