Misrepresentations and threats fuel survey agent registrations for midterms
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia election worker in 2020, Amanda Rouser made a wish as she listened to the woman testify before Congress in June about the racist threats and harassment she faced.
« I said to myself that day, ‘I’m going to go work in the polls and I’m going to see what they’re going to do to me,' » recalls Rouser, who like the targeted employee is black. after stopping by a recruitment office for election officials at Atlanta City Hall on a recent afternoon. « Try me, because I’m not afraid of people. »
About 40 miles north a day later, allegations of fraud also brought Carolyn Barnes to a recruitment event for ballot candidates, but with a different motivation.
« I think we had a fraudulent election in 2020 because of the mail-in ballots, the early voting, » Barnes, 52, said after applying for the first time in Forsyth County. « I really believe that the more we flood the system with honest people trying to help, the more it will straighten it out. »
DOJ AND WHITE HOUSE SILENT ON STATUS OF GEORGIA’S ‘JIM CROW’ VOTING LAW LAW AS MIDTERMS LOOM
Barnes, who declined to give her party affiliation, said she wanted to use her position as scrutineer to share her observations on « gaps » in election security and « where things could happen next. »
Nearly two years after the last presidential election, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting machines. Widespread criticism in battleground states where former President Donald Trump contested his loss to President Joe Biden upheld the results, courts dismissed dozens of lawsuits by Trump and his allies, and even Trump’s own Trump’s Justice Department concluded that the results were accurate.
Nonetheless, the former president and his supporters’ false claims about the 2020 presidential race are sparking renewed interest in polls in Georgia and elsewhere for the upcoming midterm elections, according to interviews with election officials, experts and potential electoral agents.
Like Rouser, some aim to shore up an essential part of their state’s electoral system amid lies and misinformation about voting and counting. But misrepresentation and conspiracy theories have also taken hold among a wide range of conservative voters, prompting some to sign up to help administer the election for the first time.
The possibility of them playing a crucial role at polling places is a new concern this election cycle, said Sean Morales-Doyle, election security expert at the Brennan Center for Justice.
« I think it’s a problem that there may be people running our elections who buy into these conspiracy theories and therefore address their role in combating rampant fraud, » he said.
But he also warned that there are plenty of safeguards to prevent a single poll worker from disrupting the vote or trying to manipulate the results.
The Associated Press spoke to about two dozen potential voters in September at three recruiting events in two Georgia counties — Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta and where more than 70% of voters voted for Biden, and Forsyth County north of Atlanta. , where support for Trump topped 65%.
FEDERAL JUDGE: LINDSEY GRAHAM TO APPEAR BEFORE GRAND JURY IN GEORGIA ELECTORAL INQUIRY
About half said the 2020 election was a factor in their decision to try to become an election agent.
« We don’t want Donald Trump to bully people, » Priscilla Ficklin, a Democrat, said while applying to Atlanta City Hall to become a Fulton County poll worker. « I will defend people who are afraid. »
Carlette Dryden said she showed up to vote in Forsyth County in 2020 only to be told she had already voted by mail. She said election officials let her vote later, but she suspects someone fraudulently voted on her behalf and thinks her experience reflects broader issues with voting across the country.
Still, she said her role was not to vet voters or root out fraud.
“What I sign up to do is help others who pass by here who might need some help or questions answered,” she said.
Georgia was at the center of Trump’s attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Biden. He lobbied the state’s Republican secretary of state in a January 2021 phone call to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state and seized surveillance footage to accuse black election worker, Wandrea Moss, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, to pull out suitcases of fraudulent votes in Fulton County. The allegation was quickly overturned, but still spread widely in conservative media.
Moss told the House committee on January 6 that she had received death threats and racist messages.
At a farmer’s market in the politically mixed suburb of Alpharetta, north of Atlanta, Deborah Eves said she feared harassment for working at a polling site, but still felt compelled to s ‘to register.
GEORGIAN ELECTORAL LAW PROVISION BLASTED BY DEMOCRATS ALLOWED TO LAND MID-TERM AMID LEGAL CHALLENGES
A substitute teacher and Democrat, Eves visited a recruiting booth set up by Fulton County officials next to stands selling single-origin coffee, honey and empanadas.
« I feel like our government is ‘we the people’, and ‘we the people’ need to step in and do things like polls so we can show that no one is cheating, no one is trying to do the wrong thing here, » she said.
Allison Saunders, who worked at a first-time voting site during the state’s May primary, said she believed Moss and Freeman were being targeted because they were black. Saunders, a Democrat, was visiting the farmer’s market with her son.
« More people who look like me need to step up and do their part, » said Saunders, who is white. « I think it’s more important to do your civic duty than to be afraid. »
Threats after the 2020 election contributed to an exodus of full-time election officials across the country. Recruiters say they haven’t seen a similar drop in the number of people who have ever done polls – temporary jobs open to local residents during election season. But some large counties across the country have reported struggling to fill those positions.
Working at the polls has long been considered an apolitical civic duty. For first-time employees, this typically involves setting up voting machines, greeting voters, verifying voter registration, and answering questions about the voting process.
Poll workers in the United States generally do not thoroughly check the political views of potential poll workers, although most states have requirements that aim to have a mix of Democratic and Republican poll workers in each polling location.
Forsyth County Chief Electoral Officer Mandi Smith said she isn’t worried about people who believe the last presidential election was fraudulent serving as scrutineers. The county provides training that emphasizes which positions are nonpartisan and that workers must follow certain rules.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
« It’s also a very team-oriented process, in that there are multiple election workers there and you don’t usually work alone, » she said.
Ginger Aldrich, who attended the county recruiting event, said she knows people who believe the last election was stolen from Trump. Their views made her curious about what she described as the « mysterious » aspects of the voting process, such as where ballots go after leaving the voting site.
“There will be unscrupulous people, and they will spend all this time figuring out how to beat the system,” said Aldrich, who is retired.
Although she believes there is fraud in elections, she said she is willing to use her experience as a scrutineer to try to convince people that there are no problems in his riding with the midterm elections.