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The RNC is launching a massive effort to monitor voting. Critics say it threatens to undermine trust

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) — The Republican National Committee on Friday launched a swing state initiative to mobilize some 100,000 polling place monitors, poll workers and attorneys to serve as “election integrity” watchdogs in November — an effort that immediately drew concerns that it could lead to harassment of election workers and undermine trust in the vote.

The RNC says its plan will help voters have faith in the electoral process and ensure their votes matter. Yet, as former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to spread false claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud, the effort also sets the stage for a repeat of Trump’s efforts to undermine the results — a gambit that ultimately led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump allies already have signaled that they might not accept the results if he loses to President Joe Biden.

The RNC has said its new effort will focus on stopping “Democrat attempts to circumvent the rules.” The party will deploy monitors to observe every step of the election process, create hotlines for poll watchers to report perceived problems and escalate those issues by taking legal action.

“What we need to ensure is integrity in our electoral process,” RNC Co-chair Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, said during the kickoff event in Bloomfield Hills, a city in a suburban county that is crucial for winning Michigan. “We can never go back and repeat 2020, but we can learn the lessons from 2020.”

She said most of the RNC is focused right now on the committee’s election integrity program, which she called “one of its kind.”

Both parties have a long history of organizing supporters to serve as poll monitors, and many election officials in the presidential swing states said they feel this kind of transparency and engagement is one of the best ways to help skeptics feel confident in the many safeguards baked into the electoral process.

Yet the language surrounding the RNC’s effort and how it’s being implemented could present broader concerns should it evolve beyond normal political party organizing, said David Becker, a former U.S. Justice Department lawyer who serves as executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

“To do it in a way that feeds your voters with the idea that the election is going to be stolen, that prepares them to be angry if their candidate loses, that can be very dangerous,” Becker said.


Associated Press writers Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta, Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report. Swenson reported from New York.


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Joey Cappelletti And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press