Far-right forums have been encouraging forum members to volunteer as poll watchers, and Media Matters has uncovered additional discussions in private QAnon Facebook groups, anti-mask Facebook groups, and even a pro-militia forum in which users say they will be poll watchers or election officials and encourage other members to volunteer.
Each of these groups could present difficult and unpredictable situations for voters come November.
This unfounded conspiracy theory claiming that President Donald Trump is secretly fighting members of the “deep state” and pedophiles has been classified by the FBI as a potential domestic terror threat and has been directly linked to multiple killings, a planned kidnapping, and even terrorism.
Media Matters has found members of QAnon Facebook groups discussing working to monitor polls. In one private group, on a thread pushing a conspiracy theory about election fraud, a user commented, “I’m an election judge at the polls.”
“I’m a poll watcher. I’ll keep my eyes open,” replied another.
In a separate QAnon group, a member encouraged other followers to volunteer to be poll observers: “Care about honest elections? Vote Early. Volunteer as a poll observer.”
An online forum for organizing militia members across the country contained a thread emphasizing that this election “must be UNCONTESTABLE” and that Democrats are supposedly going to “cheat the Presidential part of it.”
“I've said before and I maintain this--the red wave up and down the ballots should be monstrous,” wrote the user, “and the Democrats should be so humiliated by it they won't show their faces in public for months.”
The user then encouraged members to volunteer as poll watchers: “The solution to this is to firstly, volunteer if you can to be a poll worker. Second, volunteer if you can to be a poll WATCHER.”
Another user followed up: “We can definitely expect troublemakers to try and block people from voting; especially in those districts where it going to be a toss-up on who will win. Each election cycle there seems to be incidents where someone or someone’s start trouble so voters can’t get to the polls. I expect that to be a bad issue this year— especially if Trump gets anywhere close to getting re-elected.”
On a different thread, one militia member claimed to have “three scouts working three different voting stations at three different cities.”
Members of private Facebook groups that oppose COVID-19 mask mandates are also encouraging members to volunteer as poll watchers.
In a different anti-mask group, one user claimed that they signed up to work the polls and encouraged others to do the same, writing, “Do not let them use the Covid to take that away also.”
“I’d love to do this, just can’t do a mask,” one user wrote.
“Wear a face shield. I can’t wear a mask because of my breathing issues but a face sheild I can breath in. I am not at all happy with compliance but it gets me through the mandates without really wearing a mask,” the original poster responded.
“I’m not concerned about silly mandates that make absolutely no sense,” replied the other.
Another member wrote, “Wear a lace mask… if you have to wear one this is my plan.”
“Good plan,” one user responded.
If these anti-mask members volunteer to work the polls without wearing a mask, they could put other poll workers and voters in danger of contracting COVID-19. This sort of refusal has already happened in Indiana, where a county clerk is refusing to wear a mask while overseeing early voting despite the state’s new surge in COVID-19 cases.