Learning from their slow reaction to sweeping late rule changes in the 2020 presidential election, Republicans are being more proactive in their efforts to secure elections in 2022.
In keeping with this new approach, House Republicans led by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, have peppered state and local officials with letters ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections demanding redress of prior failures and preventive measures to preempt problems on Election Day.
Hogan Gidley, the vice chair of the Center for Election Integrity at America First Policy Institute, told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Wednesday that anticipating election irregularities and addressing them before they occur is the key to safeguarding election integrity.
“Once that ballot goes to the machine, it’s over,” Gidley said. “You can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube … you can’t put the ballot back in the envelope and try and interpret what someone was thinking when they voted.”
By contrast, when the absentee and mail-in ballot process is examined ahead of time and courts define what constitutes a provisional ballot prior to an election, it allows for legal battles over provisional ballots to be waged following an election.
“[G]etting out ahead of it, going on the offense, exposing what’s going on, is really the key here to success,” Gidley said.
Here are 12 of the top election integrity concerns being flagged by GOP House members:
1. In an Oct. 10th letter to Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, lawmakers signaled their concern that the city’s “privately funded, government-sponsored, partisan get-out-the-vote effort” he endorsed is being run by a progressive organization seeking to elect Democrats in red states.
“At the very least, announcing support of a partisan campaign effort in your official capacity gives the appearance of impropriety, which can only serve to undermine voters’ faith in our elections processes and confidence in their results,” wrote Davis, joined by fellow Administration Committee Republicans Rep. Bryan Steil and Rep. Barry Loudermilk. “At worst, this is a violation of the City of Milwaukee code of ethics and worthy of a formal investigation under the standards of conflict regulations.”
“Last election cycle, we saw the use of Zuckerbucks — money more or less coming from [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg — pouring into the state of Wisconsin, allowing partisans to get involved in our election system in some of our largest cities,” Steil told the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show on Tuesday. “Now we see this playing out again, now in the City of Milwaukee.”
2. On June 3, letters were sent to three separate counties addressing issues with electronic poll books (EPBs). In both Rockingham County, N.C., and Berks County, Pa., the EPBs “were inoperable for an extended period of time” during the 2022 primary elections, which caused the Pennsylvania county to extend polling hours, Davis noted.
In the Fulton County, Ga., primary, security and software updates for EPBs were conducted on Election Day, which caused “polling locations to open at less-than-full capacity,” Davis wrote to the chair of the county’s Election Board.
3. In an April 21 letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Davis and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) raised concerns about “voter education” for Atlanta Public Schools’ high school students conducted by “Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project, in coordination with Rock the Vote.” The relevant lesson plan, the lawmakers wrote, citing a Fox News report, “taught students that voter identification laws are ‘restrictive’ and make voting ‘more difficult,’ and that policies limiting ‘flexible voting options’ like mail-in voting restrict people’s ‘freedom to vote.'”
4. Elsewhere in Georgia:
In June 3 letters to Cobb County and Macon-Bibb County, Davis noted that “early ballots were illegally tabulated” during the primary election, prompting him to inquire about “the security of the early-tabulated results.”
Following a hand recount in Dekalb County, a machine tabulator “inaccurately counted several thousand ballots, leading to official results drastically different from the earlier-reported unofficial results,” Davis wrote in a July 11 letter.
5. In a June 15 letter to the New Jersey secretary of state, Davis expressed his “concern about a recent report that there are tens of thousands of errors within New Jersey’s voter rolls, including thousands of duplicate registrations and deceased individuals.” He asked the state’s elections chief to identify “the processes in place to ensure that only one ballot per eligible voter is cast and counted” and explain how the state’s voter rolls were maintained and ballots were verified in the 2020 election.
6. On June 8, Davis wrote to the Clackamas County clerk in Oregon raising his concern about 60,000 ballots in the primary election that “had blurry barcodes and could not be counted properly by vote-counting machines.” He asked the official to explain how the failure occurred and what steps were being taken to prevent a recurrence.
7. In an Oct. 24 letter to the Colorado secretary of state, Davis signaled his alarm over voter registration notices sent to 30,000 noncitizens in the state. “Colorado must ensure that its voter registration lists are well-maintained and accurate and hold itself to the highest standards for all registration notices,” Davis wrote. “The fact that roughly 30,000 names and addresses ‘accidentally’ slipped through the process is deeply concerning.”
8. On Aug. 24, Davis wrote to the director of the Pinal County Elections Department in Arizona regarding “an estimated 63,000 erroneous ballots [that] were sent out” in the primary election. He asked for an explanation as to “how these ballots were mistakenly sent out.”
9. In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Oct. 26, Davis asked for an investigation into voter registration applications sent out to deceased individuals by Planned Parenthood and Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.
“As you know, federal law requires that Texas ensure that its voter registration lists are well-maintained and accurate, and we encourage you to hold all organizations that engage in voter registration efforts to the highest accountability that the law demands,” Davis wrote. “It is deeply troubling that Planned Parenthood and Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign sent voter registration forms that may not conform to state law to individuals who, in some cases, have been deceased for over a decade.”
10. Also in Texas, Davis and Steil wrote a letter on March 11 to the elections administrator of Harris County, inquiring about 10,000 ballots that were not initially counted in the primary election. They asked for “a detailed timeline, with dates, of when and how the 10,000 ballots were missed, located, and then counted.”
11. In Lancaster County, Pa., according to a July 15 letter from Davis, nearly 16,000 mail-in ballots had a coding error, leading “more than 50 volunteers and county officials to re-mark and count these ballots, significantly delaying election results.”
12. House Republicans have also raised concerns about the involvement of federal agencies in voter registration efforts following an executive order issued by President Biden last year. One of the agencies the group of 18 lawmakers contacted was the Department of Labor, which explained that “States may choose to designate American Job Centers (AJCs), a nationwide network of almost 2,400 locally-operated centers providing job training and employment services, as voter registration agencies.”