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Trump and the RNC say they will recruit 100,000 poll workers. Experts are skeptical

Republicans say they will mobilize more than 100,000 people in battleground states to ensure “transparency and fairness” in the 2024 elections, an announcement criticized by some as risking potential voter intimidation.

“Every time a vote is cast or counted, Republican poll watchers will observe the process and report any irregularities,” the Republican National Committee announced Friday in conjunction with the former president. Donald Trump‘s campaign. “In the event of an irregularity or problem, RNC attorneys and the volunteer attorneys they have coordinated will provide rapid response services to resolve the problem using an advanced, proven action protocol.”

The announcement accused Democrats of using “tricks” in 2020, but did not say what those tricks were. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, but Trump and many of his Republican supporters have falsely claimed that his loss was the result of illegal tampering.

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Recruiting poll workers can be “very difficult.”

One Democratic pundit was skeptical that Republicans could muster such a large number of volunteer poll workers.

Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said there is no way they will find 100,000 volunteers, and that they might as well have announced 10 million. He said he led an initiative that mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, but, “It’s hard,” he said. “It is really difficult.”

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Trump has previously called for volunteers to monitor the election. His 2016 campaign website asked for volunteers to “help me stop corrupt Hillary from rigging this election!”

Levitt said volunteers at the polls are required to do mundane work, such as helping people register to vote or get a ballot in the language they speak, but that’s not what the RNC is advertising.

“If your job is to stand there and watch for fraud that doesn’t happen, then it’s very difficult to recruit people for that job because then the job is standing there for 15 hours,” Levitt said.

Obama recruited and mobilized millions of volunteers during his 2008 campaign. Adav Noti, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, called that a “different kind of volunteer work,” involving phone banking and ringing doorbells.

“Most poll workers operate at the local level,” Noti said. “It doesn’t work to try to recruit poll workers to go to a precinct halfway across the country and sit there for 12 hours while nothing happens and watch people cast their ballots.”

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RNC says the plan has five parts

The RNC’s announcement said its volunteers would observe in five key areas: “logic and accuracy testing of machines,” early voting, Election Day voting, ballot processing and post-election activities such as electioneering, audits and recounts. The party also said each battleground would have an “election integrity hotline.” The party did not say which specific states they are, nor did it provide numbers for those hotlines.

There is no evidence that voting machines changed the 2020 election, but false statements that Dominion Voting Systems machines were manipulated to change the 2020 election led Fox News to pay the company $787 million to settle a lawsuit alleging to settle libel. People wrongly questioning the outcome of the 2020 election have also targeted absentee ballots, but there is no evidence that improperly submitted or erroneous absentee ballots flipped the election.

“Every mood. Every district. Any processing center. Every province. Every state of the battlefield. We will be there,” co-chair of RNC Lara Trump, who is married to Donald Trump’s son Eric, said in the announcement. “The RNC is hiring hundreds of election integrity officers around the world – more than ever before, as our party will recruit thousands of additional observers to protect the 2024 election. These campaign officials in states are charged with recruiting, training, and where possible, rotating poll workers and poll workers day in and day out.”

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Levitt said the biggest risk to the RNC’s schedule announcement is if some voters hear about a potential massive presence of Republican poll watchers and — fearing confrontation with someone who questions their eligibility — decide it would be too much of a hassle for them to vote. But he said those rare voters are increasingly voting Republican, so it could come back to bite them.

A poll in February and March found that the more elections people had voted in since 2018, the more likely they were to support President Joe Biden, and the fewer elections people had voted in, the more likely they were to support Trump.

“I don’t think the RNC realizes that these are their voters now,” Levitt said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump, Republican Party wants to mobilize 100,000 poll workers

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