Former Trump aide claims that groups have already canvassed and challenged mail-in votes in Virginia

This could also be a turnout message for Trump supporters. The actual laws on challenging votes appear to be more complicated than Hogan Gidley is letting on.

On the day of the closely contested gubernatorial election in Virginia, former Trump White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley claimed on a prominent right-wing talk radio show that Republican organizers had already succeeded in challenging a significant number of mail-in ballots in the election — though his claims appear to be aimed more at encouraging Republican voters to trust the election system and not be discouraged from going out to the polls themselves.

Gidley made the comments on the Election Day edition of John Fredericks’ radio show. The host has previously used his network of fake local news sites to push false claims of election fraud, made similar accusations about the Virginia race, and organized a campaign rally last month on Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin’s behalf in which attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance to an American flag that was purportedly carried during the events of January 6.

“And look, I'll say, people out there may be concerned that, ‘Well, you know, why would I go vote? I was concerned about the last election, I don't know,’” Gidley said. “I got to tell you, the groups I'm working with, we're on it. We've caught a lot of folks and a lot of ballots that should not be counted. We've gotten them transferred over to provisional buckets.”

Gidley described a process by which groups he was working with had examined the voter rolls and the lists of absentee ballots, then canvassed door-to-door and allegedly found that people did not live at those addresses. (In the right-wing ballot “audit” in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned that such door-to-door canvassing could potentially violate laws against voter intimidation — and the process is also prone to serious errors.)

(To read the full transcript, click here.)

Former Trump aide Hogan Gidley claims that group has already canvassed addresses and challenged Virginia mail-in votes

Audio file

Citation From the November 2, 2021, edition of The John Fredericks Show

Gidley claimed that this process was getting real results already to impact the Virginia election.

“What you do is you go in, you point out the discrepancy, and then of course there's no choice,” Gidley said. “You can't count a ballot like that. So it goes into a provisional bin, as opposed to going into the actual, you know, ‘count these’ pile, if you will.”

Virginia law does contain a process for challenging the eligibility of a voter. However, the process does not appear to work in such an automatic fashion as Gidley seemed to present. Election officials are required to communicate with challenged voters, who are given the chance to sign a sworn statement rejecting the challenge. (An inquiry by Media Matters to the Virginia Department of Elections to clarify the ballot challenge process was not returned by the time of publication.)

But Gidley also warned, “You also have a really good, you know, backbone of a lawsuit should they decide to count some of these ballots,” later claiming, “We’ve got teams of people on the ground ready for this.”