Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Right-wing media are promoting these election-denier organizations that are recruiting volunteers for the midterms

With the constant support of right-wing media, election denial groups across the country are training volunteers for the upcoming midterm elections, recruiting poll workers, poll watchers, and lawyers to target election administration positions or setting up voter intimidation operations outside of official channels, asking for volunteers to stand watch around ballot drop boxes.

These organizations and volunteers pose a serious risk to the voting process by threatening to replace professional election officials with QAnon conspiracy theorists and extremists. The FBI has issued warnings about threats to election workers in multiple states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Arizona.

The tactics of these extremist organizations — including intimidating voters outside of ballot drop boxes with armed guards and suggesting volunteers call 911 over voter fraud conspiracy theories — raise concerns about the legality of their work, and these efforts must be scrutinized by law enforcement for potentially undermining the democratic process.

Additionally, while many of these organizations are local, Republicans are collaborating with many of these extremist groups on a national level. For example, representatives from the Republican National Committee are working alongside local election denial groups to sow doubt in the 2022 midterm results and train election administration volunteers in key swing states.

These organizations have found a home across various platforms in the right-wing media, with many being promoted on January 6 coup plotter Steve Bannon’s podcast, War Room: Pandemic.

Here are election denial and fraud conspiracy theory groups training volunteers for midterms, and the right-wing media outlets that have promoted them.

  • Republican National Committee 

  • The RNC is spending millions of dollars to recruit and train election volunteers for the upcoming midterms with the hope of finding “election irregularities that could be used to challenge results.” The RNC has reportedly told volunteers training to observe polling locations that there are “festering problems” with the ways that elections are conducted and claimed that the “2020 election had serious problems.”

    Additionally, an RNC staffer in Michigan outlined a plan for GOP-aligned poll workers to “challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places” and “developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.”

    On its website for volunteer sign-up, the RNC claims it is looking to make the midterms “easier to vote and harder to cheat in elections nationwide,” although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

    RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has appeared on Bannon’s podcast to discuss training poll workers, watchers, and lawyers.

    McDaniel told Bannon’s listeners, “We have about 30,000 poll watchers already trained, we’re going to ramp that up, that’ll be more by Election Day,” and “also 30,000 poll workers, which I think is even … maybe more important.”

    “These are people who are actually going to be working the polls in Fulton County, in Wayne County, and Milwaukee, and Philly,” McDaniel added.

  • Video file

    Citation From the October 11, 2022, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic 

  • McDaniel has appeared frequently in right-wing media, but she has recently seemed to emphasize the RNC’s election integrity work and volunteer training while speaking on Bannon’s podcast.

    Notably, former Trump campaign attorney and current RNC National Election Integrity Director Josh Findlay was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice in July “as part of its probe related to pro-Trump GOP officials and activists who presented themselves as legitimate electors from states where Joe Biden won.” Another RNC staffer hired as a part of this new effort, Thomas Lane, was subpoenaed by the FBI over also related to his apparent attendance at a meeting of fake electors in Arizona following the 2020 election.

  • Clean Elections USA

  • Led by QAnon-linked activist Melody Jennings, Clean Elections USA is recruiting volunteers to stand watch over ballot drop boxes with cameras, raising concerns of voter intimidation. Individuals with Clean Elections USA have been spotted outside of ballot drop boxes in Maricopa County, Arizona. A report sent to the Arizona secretary of state’s website from a voter said they were accused of being “a mule,” followed into the parking lot, and had photographs taken of their license plate.

    In another incident, some drop box watchers have appeared armed and wearing tactical gear.

  • Jennings has repeatedly appeared on Bannon’s War Room podcast to promote her group.

  • Election Integrity Network 

  • The Election Integrity Network, run by right-wing lawyer and election denial activist Cleta Mitchell, is a central hub of recruiting and training poll workers who are motivated by Donald Trump’s bogus claims of election fraud.

    The Election Integrity Network has also hosted trainings attended by RNC officials. In a leaked recording, RNC official Josh Findlay praised Mitchell as “the best election and election law expert out here,” adding that “hopefully we can provide some infrastructure and some muscle” behind her efforts. Mitchell has appeared repeatedly on Steve Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic and hosts her own podcast called Who’s Counting?

    This month alone, Mitchell has called for conservatives to volunteer to be poll watchers in counties they don’t live in and promoted an upcoming training that will be attended by fellow coup architect and Trump lawyer John Eastman.

  • Video file

    Citation From the October 18, 2022 edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic

  • True the Vote

  • True the Vote is a conservative group established by election deniers Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips. The organization has pushed election fraud misinformation and conspiracy theories for many years. During a 2011 panel with Judicial Watch, Engelbrecht said one of the organization’s goals is to “train, mobilize, and merge a million new election workers.”

    More recently, True the Vote was behind the widely debunked election fraud conspiracy theory film 2000 Mules.

    The group has extensive connections to the QAnon influencer community and its leaders have appeared on QAnon programs to promote True the Vote and various election conspiracy theories.

  • Video file

    Citation From the July 15, 2022, edition of MatrixxxGrooove Show

  • Dan Schultz’s Precinct Strategy 

  • The Precinct Strategy, founded by Republican tea party activist Dan Schultz, was established to train election deniers to work as precinct officers at voting locations.

    Precinct officers play an important part in deciding how local elections are run, and the responsibilities of the positions differ by state. As explained by ProPublica, these positions can “have a say in choosing poll workers” in some states and even “help pick members of boards that oversee elections,” among other responsibilities.

    The group has been embraced by the QAnon community and it organizes on a QAnon-linked social media platform. Schultz has repeatedly appeared on Bannon’s podcast and other fringe right-wing media outlets, including various QAnon shows.

  • Video file

    Citation From the June 10, 2022, edition of LindellTV's War Room: Battleground 

  • Honest Elections Project

  • The Honest Elections Project is a conservative group linked to right-wing judicial activist Leonard Leo. It claims to be a “nonpartisan group devoted to supporting the right of every lawful voter to participate in free and honest election” and “an electoral system that ensures every lawful ballot is counted, and which guards against fraud.”

    Headed by former Heritage Foundation policy analyst Jason Snead, the Honest Elections Project recently sponsored a poll worker training featuring prominent election denier and Nevada Secretary of State candidate Jim Marchant.

    The group also submitted a legal brief supporting the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s failed case to prevent extending the deadline for mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election. Snead has fearmongered about mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election, saying it would result in millions of fraudulent votes being cast.

    According to NPR, the Honest Elections Project has submitted multiple amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of the right-wing “independent state legislature theory,” which claims “that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the power to determine how federal elections are run without limits from state constitutions or state courts” and is being considered during the next term in the case of Moore v. Harper.

    In September, Snead appeared on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins, hosted by the president of extreme anti-LGBTQ organization the Family Research Council. During his appearance, Snead said that “we’ve known of course for a while that claims of voter suppression are wrong factually” while advocating for more restrictive voting laws. “States like Florida and Georgia and Texas that passed election integrity laws that were smeared as Jim Crow voter suppression last year have actually had elections this year, and turnout in some cases has exploded.”

    In March 2021, Snead appeared on OAN’s The Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, during which he said mail-in ballots are “vulnerable” and claimed there was “widespread ballot fraud” in the 2020 election, including “vote trafficking.”

  • Michigan Election Integrity Force 

  • The Michigan Election Integrity Force is a GOP-aligned election conspiracy theory organization that has instructed poll workers to call 911 with accusations of voter fraud during midterms.

    The group appears to have its own TV show streamed on the right-wing YouTube knockoff platform Rumble, where the group discusses baseless accusations of voter fraud and strategies to decertify the 2020 presidential election. (In reality, there is no legal pathway to decertify or change the results of a presidential election.)

  • Video file

    Citation From the March 8, 2022, edition of Election Integrity Force TV show

  • The America Project 

  • The America Project is run by QAnon-connected election denier and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne.

    The group’s homepage includes training materials and “election integrity tools” listed for poll watchers, poll observers, and challengers.

    Byrne posts videos on Rumble that encourage people to become poll watchers and observers. He also discusses various election fraud conspiracy theories, including claiming “there are hundreds of thousands of bad votes getting into the system in … certain vulnerable counties.”

  • Video file

    Citation From an October 13, 2022, post from The America Project 

  • Audit the Vote PA

  • Audit the Vote PA is a Pennsylvania-based voter fraud conspiracy theory organization run by QAnon adherent and 9/11 conspiracy theorist Toni Shuppe. According to its website, the organization runs “weekly deep dive” poll worker training “from now until election day.”

    Shuppe has appeared on One America News and Bannon’s show to promote Audit the Vote PA and voter fraud conspiracy theories.

    During one appearance, Shuppe said her group is partnered with Byrne’s America Project “to do a get-out-the-vote effort,” saying “it’s our focus from now till November” in order to “massively overwhelm the system with as many in-person votes on Election Day as possible.”

  • Video file

    Citation From the August 29, 2022, edition of LindellTV's War Room: Battleground 

  • Cause of America 

  • Cause of America is an election fraud conspiracy theory group funded by election denier and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

    On Bannon’s show, a representative for Cause of America encouraged listeners to volunteer and take its “30-minute training video” on how to fill out “an incident report” if they see something suspicious while voting in-person, as well as promoting other training materials for official poll watchers.

    “I want everybody in this audience to know where they can go to get this punch list for what you do for your training,” Bannon said.

  • Video file

    Citation From the October 18, 2022, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic 

  • American Voters’ Alliance 

  • American Voters’ Alliance is an election denial and conspiracy theory group. The organization’s website has a section for volunteers to sign up to become poll workers.

    American Voters’ Alliance was touted on Bannon’s podcast by former Kansas Attorney General Phillip Kline.

    After Kline promoted the group on Bannon’s show, the host described him as “a rockstar.”

  • EZAZ

  • EZAZ is an Arizona-based fraud conspiracy theory group that is training poll watchers for the upcoming election. EZAZ also appears to be aligned with Turning Point USA and anti-Muslim organizer and QAnon conspiracy theorist Scott Presler.

  • EZAZ poll watchers
  • Merissa Hamilton, the organization’s co-founder, has appeared on Newsmax to tout EZAZ and other GOP grassroots activism. Hamilton is also the grassroots director at FreedomWorks, a right-wing tea party-aligned organization.

  • Video file

    Citation From the September 24, 2021, edition of Newsmax's Save the Nation 

  • Tea Party Patriots 

  • Tea Party Patriots is a conservative organization founded in 2009 that has spread conspiracy theories and claims about alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election. Now, the group is attempting to recruit poll workers for the upcoming midterms.

    During an April 12 interview with Bannon, Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin announced that her group is working alongside election denier Cleta Mitchell to put on a series of “election integrity” summits in key swing states around the country “based on a model Cleta Mitchell developed” at the Election Integrity Network.

  • Video file

    Citation From the April 12, 2022, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic 

  • More recently, Martin appeared on Bannon’s October 24 podcast to talk about training poll watchers. Martin told his audience to“go to our website” and “sign up to be a poll watcher and we will get you trained,” and claimed “we need more poll watchers.”

  • County Citizens Defending Freedom

  • County Citizens Defending Freedom is a Christian nonprofit organization that advocates for right-wing policies. The group has hosted poll watcher trainings in the past.

    County Citizens Defending Freedom also hosts its own podcast featuring interviews with election fraud conspiracy theorists, including an episode with election denier Seth Keshel “to further discuss the 2020 election fraud that has been plaguing our nation.”

  • Seth Keshel CCDF
  • Concerned Women for America

  • Concerned Women for America is a right-wing organization that “promotes Biblical values and Constitutional principles through prayer, education, and advocacy.” The group hosted a summit on “election fraud” in July 2020 and promoted 2020 “voter fraud” allegations during the January 6 insurrection. More recently, the group has recruited its members to become poll workers.

    The group has hosted “election integrity” events with conspiracy theorist Douglas Frank and Jenna Ellis, the former Trump campaign attorney and former Real America's Voice host who tried to overturn the 2020 election.

    In the past, Bannon has heaped praise on Concerned Women for America’s president and CEO, Penny Nance, calling her his “favorite.” Nance has also appeared on One America News and Newsmax. The group also produces its own podcast series to discuss right-wing politics.

  • Video file

    Citation From the February 27, 2021, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic 

  • U.S. Election Integrity Plan

  • The U.S. Election Integrity Plan is a Colorado-based election denial organization. The group, led by co-founder and conspiracy theorist Shawn Smith, has recruited volunteers to canvass voters door-to-door and become poll watchers, raising concerns about voter intimidation. Smith also appears to be a January 6 insurrectionist and is president of Cause for America, a group “funded by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell with the goal of coordinating ‘election integrity’ activities throughout the country, animated by the ‘big lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.”

    The U.S. Election Integrity Plan’s canvassing efforts have been accused of violating the Voting Rights Act by intimidating voters, “often in neighborhoods with a high number of people of color.” Some of the group’s volunteers have been spotted carrying firearms while canvassing door-to-door.

    Smith has used violent rhetoric against election administration officials in the past, including threatening Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold:

  • Bannon has repeatedly hosted leaders from the U.S. Election Integrity Plan on his podcast to discuss its canvassing efforts. Holly Kasun, a co-founder of the U.S. Election Integrity Plan, told Bannon in March that her group’s “canvassing report and our program has been a model for the nation,” seemingly encouraging other election denial groups to canvass voters in a similar manner.

    Bannon responded that Kasun’s group knows how to “do it right.”

  • Video file

    Citation From the March 14, 2022, edition of LindellTV's War Room: Battleground