Trump campaign tells election officials about the veracity of mail-in voting

Local officials and experts have described something far broader than what was launched in previous elections, in an effort, from Trump campaign ballot storage to Volunteer vetting, to individual outreach as well as written election officials to CNN Is telling about

According to several sources and documents, in at least two major states, Wisconsin and Georgia, local officials have received questionnaires from Trump’s team about how ballots will be verified, how staff will be deployed, and even What would the envelope housing ballots look like. .

More than 1,800 municipal clerks in Wisconsin received a document in recent weeks stating that state officials looked like a request for public records at first glance, but were actually a document from the Trump Victory Team, which According to Wisconsin spokesman Reid Magney, the data was demanding. Election commission.

And in Georgia, county officials received 59-question documents from the presidential reunion team that examined how the state’s mail-in system would be structured at every level. The list, obtained by CNN, also asked a question, whether there was any way to tell if a ballot was sent by Democrats or Republicans.

The Wisconsin Questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, raises questions about whether remote voting procedures are reliable. Among other things, the campaign seeks information on how officials will prevent voters from voting twice – once by mail and once in person – as Trump did in an effort to get his supporters to test the system Is encouraged to.

“What steps have been taken to ensure that a voter who votes by post is also unable to vote in person?” The document states.

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During a North Carolina run last week, Trump encouraged supporters to vote by mail and then personally was likely to dismiss their paper ballots to ensure that their votes are counted if they Also vote in voting.

“Then send it. And then look and then vote and see what happens. You’re convinced now, though, that your very precious and important vote has been counted,” Trump said.

Experts have been sounding the alarm from November onwards, warning that the unprecedented circumstances mandated by Kovid-19 could lead to days or weeks of election results or bad legal battles that drag the country through an exhausting transition of power . Trump has spent weeks exploiting that possibility – without evidence claiming that mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud.

The emphasis of his campaign to gather detailed information on everything from ballot storage to volunteers for volunteers in Wisconsin and beyond is highlighting how the president’s reunion team has a high probability of litigation in key states Is preparing for – and falling prey to – possible evidence. up Trump’s consistent claims of a rigid system when the time comes.

Experts and election workers say that it is common to elect election clerks. This helps ensure that in the event of a problem in a major state or county, campaign staff are not in contact to find a local point of contact during election night.

But outreach questions and types of aggression are new, David Baker, executive director of the Center for Elections Innovation and Research, a nonpartisan group.

“When you start treating those meetings like a statement for a lawsuit coming three months later, eyebrows start to rise,” Baker said.

Maggie in Wisconsin said the Trump team clarified the questions “came from headquarters” and were part of a broader strategic effort from the campaign. He said that what he has seen in previous elections is a more aggressive attempt than he had already received a call from the Wisconsin Republican Party and from a Trump campaign official because the Trump team knew the nuances of election rules in an important election Works for state.

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“They are trying to gather more and more information, because they can learn about how the system works in anticipation of a possible recon. They are trying to put their information into files. Relationships Trying to make – his name is. That clerk also knows him, “he said.” So, if there is a problem near election day, they are not calling him for the first time. “

Magney said Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his team have not sought the level of detail from county clerks in Wisconsin, which the Trump campaign has done since July.

A Biden campaign official said the former vice-president’s team has also deployed resources in swing states with the goal of building relationships at local election offices.

“We have made a major initial investment to field voter security staff in battlegrounds, so that they can build relationships with state and local election officials so that voting can run smoothly and deprive anyone of access to the ballot Can not be done. ” Box, ”said Biden campaign spokesman Mike Jeevin.

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There is nothing new from campaigns to supporters of local elections; A former election official in Arizona described the invitation to dinner from campaigns. Baker said election clerks are expected to answer questions from campaigns.

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“It is perfectly normal to campaign to touch base with election offices, particularly in battleground states, to find out what their rules and procedures and timeline are,” Baker said. “It could be a phone call, it could be a person-to-person meeting, which, of course, we are reducing now. … What is unusual is when questions begin like a possible forecast and later potential litigation Huh. . ”

A Republican National Committee lawyer told CNN that outreach to local election officials is heavily concentrated in the battlegrounds and defended the practice in general.

“If you get a response from an officer that indicates they are not following the law and should be followed – and there are going to be county officials who are not following the law, whether knowingly or not , ”Said Justin Reimer, the chief counsel of the Republican National Committee. “Potentially they are not following some sort of protocol, whether it is for provisional voting, or a chain of custody for election materials, or other things that are really important to the integrity of the process, so that’s our Important information for. ”

The Wisconsin GOP asks clerks detailed questions about aspects of the questionnaire system sent to that state such as where paper ballets will be stored before processing, who has access to them and how those volunteers are selected.

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The 34 questions also include what happens in the event of an event – where and how the previously counted ballots are stored, in which they need to be counted again, and how quickly they are counted. Will be processed in the scenario.

“Once an envelope and ballot are processed, what is the storage and security process?” Reads a question from the document. “In the event of an incident, when are mail-in ballots counted?” Another reads.

Clerks in Wisconsin were asked whether people could turn in their mail-in ballots before Election Day, and what security measures are in place to drop those ballots in places like Dropbox.

Questionnaire Georgia election officials received an investigation for even more details.

Clerks for mail-in ballots were asked about postage on what forms vendors would print, and how long the campaign would have to challenge anything about ballot design – it is used to spell from fonts .

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“Are there any marks on the envelope to distinguish between Democrat and Republican ballots during the primary?” The questionnaire states. “Is the return postage paid by the county (or other election entity)? Can a third party legally provide postage?”

Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Thea McDonald cited problems with mail-in voting to be held in several presidential primaries this year, as the team is gathering so much information from important counties.

“As part of the Trump campaign’s efforts to ensure a free and fair election, we have sought information from county clerks so that we can get a detailed understanding of absentee voting procedures – and the similarities and differences that may exist in different jurisdictions With more than 500,000 mail ballots removed in this year’s primaries, we should look into these important issues before November. When did transparency become a bad thing? “McDonald said in a statement to CNN.

Regarding the estimated 500,000 ballots, NPR and The Washington Post reported that most of the ballots were rejected because voters forgot to sign paperwork or because the ballots did not arrive on time – not because of fraud.

Deployment of poll watchers

Both campaigns are expected to deploy pole watchers and lawyers on various sites on Election Day, who can do the groundwork to follow up on any possible lawsuits.

Through the many lawsuits the Trump campaign and the RNC have filed, sources said the party is forming a deep bench of local lawyers that could give Republicans the ability to file state-level lawsuits quickly and efficiently.

Many election officials told CNN that the role of poll watchers is a description of what they are seeing on the ground as voters are casting ballots – writing everything about problems from different machines on the site that Sufficient paper ballots were available for everyone shown above – if the campaign decides to challenge the results and needs evidence to back it up.

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A source said lawyers associated with the campaign were likely to be placed in “central command centers” to oversee the more technical aspects of ballot counting – such as the already established chain of custody for batches of ballots Whether or not signature verification procedures are being followed.

If the lawsuit follows a close result, all the information collected may be important.

“There is always a fluctuation in voting litigation in an election year, but with Kovid, that event has actually been put on steroids,” Reimer told CNN. “We have never seen anything that we have right now with legal challenges.”