Ballot box watching failed to take off outside of Arizona (VIDEO)
The 2020 election skeptics planned to stake the ballot boxes in the 2022 midterm elections. Their plan did not materialize beyond Arizona.
An effort by 2020 election skeptics and deniers to monitor open-air ballot boxes across the country this year has failed, according to voter complaint records reviewed by Newsy and interviews with election officials in states across the country. battlefield.
“It hasn’t happened in a very coordinated fashion and certainly not in the numbers that we expected,” said Matthew Weil, executive director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project.
Weil said ahead of Election Day, polling officials in various states were alarmed to see reports from private citizens, inspired by misinformation alleging fraud in the 2020 presidential election, lining the ballot boxes as the Early voting was starting in Arizona.
Observers sat for hours on sidewalks in camp chairs next to video cameras atop tripods trained on voters as they dropped ballots into official collection bins.
“I watched them jump behind the cameras as I walked through the parking lot,” said John Evans, a Phoenix voter. “I just felt like my privacy was being invaded.”
Clean Elections USA led an effort to recruit thousands of ballot box observers across the country. The group had spread widely debunked claims about ‘mules’ being paid to stuff ballot boxes with fraudulent votes in the 2020 presidential election.
Social media posts show that the plan this year was to catch fraudsters red-handed, focusing first on Arizona, a state that has been the target of baseless allegations of illegal voting .
“Take photos/videos…8-10 people per box…Tailgate party, Bible study, whatever. Shine your headlights on the box,” said an Oct. 7 social media post from group founder Melody Jennings on Truth Social, the Twitter alternative founded by former President Donald Trump.
A month earlier, Jennings had announced that there would be surveillance in “every drop box across America VERY SOON.”
Jennings did not respond to interview requests.
Some of the observers in Arizona wore masks and were reportedly armed.
Civic groups argued in court that citizen surveillance amounted to “vigilante voter intimidation.”
“If you were a voter and you were in the process of legally voting…you had to be treated a bit like a paparazzi with this army of photographers aiming at you,” said Orion Danjuma, a lawyer at Protect Democracy, a rights group ballot that challenged the Arizona drop box monitors in court.
But “Drop Box Initiative 2022,” as proponents have dubbed it, appears to have been a flop outside of Arizona.
Records from the Arizona secretary of state’s office show 23 voter complaints related to ballot monitoring.
But complaint data Newsy has received so far from five other classic battleground states shows few reports of problems at the ballot box outside of Arizona.
There have been five voter complaints in North Carolina related to unwelcome surveillance.
And there were no complaints about drop box monitors in recordings sent to Newsy from four other states: Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Election officials in those states confirmed that they had not seen the type of ballot box monitoring that took place in Arizona.
Clean Elections USA had said it planned to send videos of suspicious activity to local sheriffs, but as in 2020, there were no reports from law enforcement of widespread voter fraud in 2022.
The Clean Elections USA website was almost entirely taken down, with no explanation as to why there weren’t more volunteers monitoring the boxes.
“I think the reason we haven’t seen a lot of this across the country is because sitting in beach chairs outside of a drop box is probably a pretty boring way get through the day,” Weil said. “It’s literally watching someone put a piece of paper in a secure drop box, so there really wasn’t much to do.”