The Republican Party intends to spend $20 million to recruit a network of up to 50,000 volunteers to monitor poll locations.
According to a New York Times report, the party, President Trump, and others are building an aggressive effort to shape who gets to vote in November and whose ballots are counted.
The Republican effort, which is gaining steam, will recruit up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious. The program will also use the funds to challenge lawsuits by Democrats and voting-rights advocates seeking to loosen state restrictions on balloting.
The Republican effort has been boosted by a 2018 federal court ruling allowing the national Republican Party to mount campaigns against purported voter fraud without court approval. The court ban on the party was imposed in 1982, then modified twice after courts found instances of Republicans intimidating or working to exclude minority voters in the name of preventing fraud.
The party was found to have violated the ruling again in 2004 when President George W. Bush won a second term over Democratic nominee John Kerry.
Mandi Merritt, a spokeswoman for the RNC, said the ruling merely allows the party to play by the same rules as the Democratic National Party.
“Now the R.N.C. can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best—ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” she said in a statement.
Democrats do not plan on standing idly by. The party said it will deploy its own army of poll watchers, seeking both to maximize Democratic turnout and contest Republican practices they believe improperly challenge or deter voters.
Fair Fight, a group dedicated to counter the Republican effort, plans to have its own personnel in the same swing states Republicans have targeted.
Democrats who have been focusing on the Republican effort say their goal is not to limit fraud but to make the threat of election theft the starting point of a coordinated campaign to limit the number of Democratic ballots counted.
“This is a burn-it-down strategy, a strategy to win at all costs,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, the senior adviser at Fair Fight, told the Times. “They see this as central to victory.”
Stacey Abrams and other African American politicians have made a serious push to not only get more African Americans to vote but to raise funds for minority candidates. The growing collective PAC is also making the same effort.