Poll workers face unprecedented pressure ahead of midterms
The day before the August 2 primaries in Michigan, a group of GOP leaders instructed poll workers to break election rules to catch purported Democratic fraud.
Video obtained by CNN shows Wayne County Republican officials telling poll workers to act as “undercover agents” and counteract “bad stuff” happening in the election by “secretly” breaking rules.
“None of the constraints that they’re putting on this are legal,” former state senator Patrick Colbeck told trainees on the August 1 call.
As far as cell phones, “I would say maybe just hide it or something, and maybe hide a small pad and a small pen or something like that because you need to take accurate notes,” Cheryl Costantino, the GOP county chairwoman and host of the call, told participants.
Some participants raised concerns about being tossed out if they broke the rules. “That’s why you got to do it secretly,” Costantino replied.
Writing anything down, taking notes, or using a cell phone would be a violation of election rules.
Critically, Republican officials are spreading the lie that Democrats cheated to win in 2020—and will cheat again in 2022—so rules must be broken to “level the playing field.”
During the Wayne County training call, obtained by CNN, the presumption that Democrats cheat – thus justifying Republican rule-breaking – permeated the discussion. It offers a snapshot of one of the ways Trump-backing, MAGA-minded conspiracy theorists are intervening in the election process across the country, sometimes encouraging poll workers or volunteer observers to violate election rules in hopes of finding evidence that Democrats might be doing the same.
Both Colbeck and Costantino were supporters of Trump’s Big Lie claims and attempted the reverse Biden’s win in Michigan.
While serving as a poll challenger at a counting center in Detroit, Colbeck claimed he saw vote-tabulation machines connected to the internet. He submitted an affidavit to that effect for a lawsuit that Costantino filed a week after the election, seeking to stop the results from being certified and requesting an audit.
A Republican activist in Washington is suing King County and Gov. Jay Inslee after officials took down signs she placed near ballot boxes warning voters they were “under surveillance.”
King County Elections Director Julie Wise, also named as a defendant, criticized the signs as an effort to scare voters. “I believe this is a targeted, intentional strategy to intimidate and dissuade voters from using secure ballot drop boxes. My team is not going to stand by and allow any group to seed fear and doubt amongst our residents and voters, especially not when they are simply trying to make their voices heard,” Wise said.
The activist, Amber Krabach, placed the signs near ballot drop boxes over the summer. The signs note that accepting money “for harvesting or depositing ballots” may violate federal law and feature a QR code that links to a King County Republican Party website to submit “election incident” reports.
Wise ordered the signs taken down, a move that Krabach says violated her First Amendment right to political speech.
Upon information and belief, the Defendants have violated the Plaintiff’s state and federal constitutional rights, as set forth herein, because they disapprove of Mrs. Krabach’s message (and her political views generally) and sought to silence her speech and those of perceived political allies, as well as to prevent others from considering it. But Mrs. Krabach’s political speech – non-disruptive signs containing basic, factual information about the voting process, provided to the general public in the context of a Washington election for state and federal office – represents speech at the apex of First Amendment protection. It cannot lawfully be restricted for political convenience, nor to prevent voters or others from considering the potential ramifications of fraudulent election activity. To criminalize Plaintiff’s speech, without even so much as providing basic notice of what the law prohibits and what it allows, is overbroad, unnecessary to accomplish any legitimate purpose, and flagrantly unconstitutional.
Krabach is running as a third party against incumbent state Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, in the 45th Legislative District. She has regularly posted QAnon-related memes and tweets on social media, including references to “Where We Go One, We Go All” and “the Great Awakening.”
True the Vote
An elections logistics firm filed a lawsuit last week against Texas-based True the Vote for alleged defamation and computer fraud related to the group’s voter fraud conspiracies.
The company, Konnech Inc., alleges that True the Vote and its followers launched a stream of false and racist accusations against the company’s founder, forcing him and his family to flee their home in “fear for their lives” and damaging the company’s business. This slander includes “baseless claims” that Konnech founder Eugene Yu and his employees are “Chinese operatives” who are spearheading a “Red Chinese communist op run against the United States.”
Konnech’s software products are not involved in any way in the registration of voters, the production, distribution, scanning, or processing of ballots, or the collection, counting or reporting of votes. Indeed, Konnech never handles any ballots and no ballots or other voting counts ever enter any of Konnech’s computer servers. It thus begs the question how Defendants could believe that Konnech could ever be involved in election fraud—or how it otherwise could have helped “steal” the 2020 Presidential Election from former President Donald Trump—when Konnech has had no involvement with ballots in any U.S. election. But the simple matter is, Defendants have no regard for the truth or the consequences of their actions, because the truth would not profit them.
Konnech further alleges that True the Vote hacked into the company’s servers and unlawfully downloaded its data. According to the lawsuit, the group admits they are in possession of Konnech’s stolen information.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, a Reagan appointee, acted quickly to issue a temporary restraining order preventing True the Vote’s leaders from disclosing any of the stolen information.