Inspired by conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, activists around the country are using laws that allow people to challenge a voter’s right to vote to register thousands of voters at once.
In Iowa, Lynn County Auditor Joel Miller has faced three voter challenges over the past 15 years. He received 119 just two days after Doug Frank, a teacher in Ohio, who country tour Roamed through the state, spreading doubts about the 2020 election.
In Nassau County, northern Florida, two residents challenged the registrations of nearly 2,000 voters six days before last month’s primary. In Georgia, activists are facing challenges in various and Democratic-leaning counties, including the Atlanta metro area, which at the end of last month included more than 35,000 in one county.
Election officials say most of the challenges will be irrelevant as they oppose the presence on the voting rolls of people who are already in the process of being removed from the field. Still, they potentially work hundreds of hours of extra work as offices scramble to prepare for November’s election.
Sean Morales-Doyle of the Brennan Center for Justice said, “Before an election they put the burden on election officials at best, and at worst they take people off the rolls when they shouldn’t be.” Tracked the increase in voter challenges.
Voter challenges come in the form of activists who believe election lie Former President Donald Trump has also filled election offices across the country with public records requests and litigation threats, working even more on them as he prepares for November.
“This is going to take time for us, because we have to consult with our county attorneys about what the appropriate response is going to be,” said Rachel Rodriguez, an election supervisor in Dane County, Wisconsin, which includes Madison, the state capital.
She received duplicate emails seeking records about two weeks ago: “While we’re trying to prepare for the November election, it’s not necessarily taking up valuable time we have as election officials.”
Michael Henriky, the Democratic commissioner of elections in New York’s Otsego County, received a single-line email last week warning of an unspecified “election integrity” lawsuit, then a follow-up complaint that he had not responded.
“These are not people with typical complaints,” Heinrich said. “They’re getting a form letter from someone’s podcast and sometimes fill in the blanks.”
Different the inspection And review, including one by Trump himself Justice Departmentfound it no significant fraud n 2020 presidential election, and rejected by the courts dozens of lawsuits Brought to you by Trump and his allies. But Trump continued to insist that he had to seek re-election because of widespread fraud. This has prompted many activists across the country to contest elections with their own hands, challenging local polling officials at every turn.
In Lynn County, Iowa, which includes the city of Cedar Rapids, Miller said he and the auditors running elections in the state’s other 98 counties have been inundated with both record requests and voter challenges.
“The whole barrage came in a two-week period,” Miller said after visiting Frank, who uses mathematical conjecture to claim a massive conspiracy to steal the election from Trump, “and it was reflected in auditors across the state.” happening with.”
Election offices regularly check their electoral rolls and remove those who are gone or have died. Federal law restricts how quickly they can drop voters, and conservative activists have long complained that election officials don’t move fast enough to clear their rolls.
Recent challenges stem from activists comparing postal change-of-address and other databases to electoral rolls. Election officials say this is redundant, as they are already taking the same steps.
Sometimes the challenges come when election conspirators go door-to-door, often in heavily minority neighbourhoods, seeking proof that votes were wrongly cast in 2020.
Texas’ heavily Democratic Harris County, which includes Houston, received nearly 5,000 challengers from a conservative group who went door-to-door to check voter addresses. The Elections Office said it rejected the legally reviewed challenges ahead of the election and the remainder would expire after November 8.
Activists in Gwinnett County, which is spread across the increasingly Democratic North Atlanta suburbs, spent 10 months comparing change-of-address and other databases with county voter lists. He submitted eight boxes of challenges last month. He said that of around 15,000, there were complaints that specific voters improperly received mail ballots in 2020. The other 22,000 were for voters, whom they protest are no longer at their registered addresses.
There are so many challenges that election officials are yet to count them all. But Gwinnett’s election supervisor Zach Manifold said that, in every single mail ballot complaint the office has sampled, the voter received exactly one postal ballot.
But if any address-challenged voter attempts to vote in November, the county’s board of elections must decide whether that vote should count. He will only have six days to make a decision, as he must prove his vote total by the Monday after Election Day under Georgia law.
Manifold estimated that his office has a month to log in and research the challenges, before mail ballots go out for November’s elections: “It’s a tight window to do everything,” he said. Told.
Several large counties facing voter list challenges are places where President Joe Biden defeated Trump in 2020, including Gwynette and Harris. Yet those behind the effort dispute the notion that they are targeting Democratic-leaning counties and say they are acting on behalf of all voters. For example, in Nassau County, Florida, Trump won with over 72% of the vote.
“They should be glad that the voter list is being cleared so they can make sure their votes are counted,” said Garland Favarito, a conservative activist who collaborated with supporters of Trump’s election lies to help voter challenges in Georgia. Is.
Favarito said more challenges lie ahead in other Georgia counties.
Under legislation passed last year by the Republican-controlled legislature, Georgia has no limit on the number of voter challenges that can be filed. Most states have banned challenges, said Morales-Doyle of the Brennan Center. They require a complainant to have specific, personal information about the voters they target and establish penalties for facing trivial challenges.
Florida is an example. Its voter challenge law only allows challenges to be filed 30 days before an election, requiring election officials to contact each voter who challenges before election day. Filing a “trivial” challenge is a crime. But the challenge of Florida’s primary voting nearly derailed last month in heavily-republican Nassau County in the northeastern part of the state.
Two women who belonged to a conservative group, County Citizens Defending Freedom, dropped nearly 2,000 picks in the county election office six days before the August 23 primaries.
Fortunately for Office, the challenges were entered in the wrong format. Election observer Janet Adkins told workers she would review them, anyway – after the primary.
“It’s a very serious thing to take away a person’s right to vote,” Adkins said.
Holly Reamer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.