The nonprofit Advance Democracy Inc. combed election-related posts over a roughly eight-month period.
Election officials have publicly stressed that insider threats arising from poll workers, at least thus far, have been relatively isolated incidents and that there did not appear to be a widespread epidemic of bad faith workers in the run-up to the election. | Mike Householder/AP Photo
By Heidi Przybyla and Zach Montellaro
Members of far-right social media sites Gab, Gettr and Truth Social who believe fraud was committed in the 2020 election have stated they intend to serve as official poll workers in their jurisdictions on Tuesday, according to a new report.
The report from Advance Democracy Inc. found examples of users on sites Truth Social — the social media site owned by former President Donald Trump — and pro-Trump online forums who follow QAnon conspiracy theories. In posts compiled between March and late October of this year, several discuss their intent to identify voter fraud, including by installing their own software into elections computers. They also discussed bringing cameras to polling places and falsely claiming to be Democrats on their election worker applications.
“Individuals seeking to become election workers to prove unsubstantiated theories of election fraud, or to disqualify certain votes to change election outcomes, present a threat to the security of American elections,” read the report, first shared with POLITICO. Advance Democracy is a nonprofit research organization that studies misinformation and other election threats.
Election officials have been on high alert about the potential for insider threats arising from poll workers. A handful of Republican candidates and local officials, especially in Michigan, have encouraged their supporters to become poll workers and either tamper with equipment or bring in cell phones or note pads to document votes being cast or counted to try to catch any alleged malfeasance at polling places.
POLITICO previously reported the drive by key conservative groups to find poll workers and watchers was partly about creating a record to challenge results after the fact. John Eastman, the attorney who led Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to throw out legitimate election results, told activists in New Mexico to file complaints to form the basis for court challenges. And an activist group in Michigan told prospective poll workers and watchers to call law enforcement with complaints during the election.
In late September, the chief election official of Kent County, Mich., announced that a poll worker during the summer primary allegedly inserted a USB drive into an electronic poll book containing a list of registered voters for a precinct. While officials at the time did not ascribe any motivation to that poll worker — who was eventually charged with a pair of felonies — the ADI report asserts that the poll worker was part of a local Tea Party affiliated-group’s discussion group called “Election Fraud Citizens Audit.”
Kent County election officials completed an audit last month that concluded the alleged tampering had no effect on the results during the primary.
Many of the posters in the ADI report publicly detailed plans to disregard election rules, including bringing hidden cameras into polling sites. (POLITICO was not able to independently confirm the identity of the anonymous posters on the sites, or their status as poll workers.)
“I’m going to try to get a hidden camera with a large memory card to record all day in the Las Vegas area. Really looking forward to seeing what happens,” read one post on Gettr from someone who claimed to be a poll worker.
Another poster claimed to have worked the August primaries in Palm Beach, Fla., writing a blow-by-blow of their day. The user claims the “process is relatively smooth,” before alleging the potential for cheating when dropping off their precinct ballots at the end of the day.
Election officials have publicly stressed that insider threats arising from poll workers, at least thus far, have been relatively isolated incidents and that there did not appear to be a widespread epidemic of bad faith workers in the run-up to the election.
They add that there are safeguards in place to prevent any individual worker — or even a small group — from altering the outcome of an election, though they could interfere with the process for individual voters or in a single precinct.
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