One Hundred Thousand Eagle Eyed GOP Poll Watchers
Here’s a #funfact about William Rehnquist, the previous Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: in the 1960s he worked to suppress black and hispanic votes in Arizona. On November 3, 1964, The New York Times reported that:
“Operation Eagle Eye” is the Republican poll-watching campaign under which G.O.P. officials say they will deploy 100,000 trained Republican workers at polling places in 35 large cities. […] Republican officials denied Democratic charges that they planned to “frighten off” or otherwise discourage a large turnout in the 35 selected cities.
Mr. Barr specifically denied that “there is anything discriminatory in ‘Eagle Eye’ against any race, creed or economic status.” He is a Republican official in Chicago, where Republicans for years have alleged that voting irregularities have favored Democratic candidates. …Harlington Wood, a ranking official of the G.O.P. “ballot security” program, also denounced as “ridiculous” charges that “Operation Eagle Eye” was designed to hinder the electoral process.
Mr. Wood, whose title is deputy director of political education and training for ballot security for the Republican National Committee, said the G.O.P. strategy was designed to discover “tombstone” and “vacant lot” voters—those carried on the election rolls although they have died, moved, or given false addresses.
If this reminds you of more recent developments, then let’s just say you’re not alone. Today The Washington Post reported on ongoing Republican efforts to deconsolidate U.S. democracy:
While Democrats have set up legal hotlines and mobilized volunteers by stressing a need to help those denied a chance to vote, the Republican operation is centered on challenging ballots, spotting potential fraud — and for poll watchers, reporting those concerns directly to party attorneys on Election Day, according to the RNC. That worries advocates and some election officials, who say the intense focus on fraud could cause problems at voting sites. […] The prospect of election deniers staffing polling precincts raises new concerns for administrators, civil rights groups and Democrats who say that Republicans are positioning themselves to sabotage the casting and counting of ballots in ways they could not in 2020. Some election officials say they’re already seeing poll worker trainees with clear agendas driven by Trump’s claims. […] Findlay, who took over implementing the RNC’s new program, was more given to falsely impugning the legitimacy of the 2020 results. He previously worked as a lawyer on the Trump campaign, running the national “war room” at the White House leading up to election night and in the following days. “I saw firsthand everything that the Democrats were doing last cycle to try to cause mistakes, confusion and abuse in the election,” Findlay said in an April 2021 virtual meeting hosted by Texas RNC member Toni Anne Dashiell. […] Findlay echoed baseless claims that pandemic safety procedures were part of a Democratic plot to steal the election.
How’s that worked out recently?
But the Harris County officials disputed that the RNC played a significant role in highlighting problems, noting that the central problem — 10,000 ballots that weren’t properly entered — was discovered by the elections office itself. Leah Shah, a spokeswoman for the elections administrator, said the Republicans did not provide enough poll workers, causing some locations to close or rely on staff from the elections office or the Democratic side. The county GOP’s lawsuit was dismissed, and the party is appealing.
“If the party claims responsibility for the resignation of the current elections administrator, one has to ask themselves whether that was the goal all along: sow chaos in a multitiered fashion, act in bad faith, with the end result of undermining a public servant,” said the administrator, Isabel Longoria, whose resignation takes effect next month. Longoria spoke in reference to the Texas Republicans’ law passed in 2021 that restricting drive-through and 24-hour voting that the county offered in 2020.
At least we can count on the courts protecting… oh, right.