Analysis | How False Allegations of Cheating Intimidate Voters – The Washington Post | Episode Movies

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There’s no reason to stand near drop boxes in Arizona and monitor who’s casting ballots. Finally, there is no evidence whatsoever that dropboxes are a vehicle for casting fraudulent votes. The Associated Press contacted polling officials across the country and found no significant examples of mailbox fraud. And yet there has been a movement that is doing just that.

Much of the concern about Dropboxes comes from, of course the movie “2000 Mules”, which did not show actual examples of people illegally casting multiple ballots. (A man accused of illegally voting in the film is now suing for defamation.) The standard of behavior deemed suspicious in the film is…low, meaning those who choose to dropbox “monitor” have no yardstick by which to judge voters. This means that anything can be considered “suspicious” at all. A Dropbox monitor, for example, publicly posted a photo of a man whose car had no license plate casting a vote, as reported by NBC News — although it’s not really clear why this should be cause for concern.

That is vigilance. People have self-proclaimed observers after becoming convinced something shameful is happening, after believing the dishonest claims of movies like 2000 Mules or people like former President Donald Trump. It’s a group that believes officials’ indifference and inaction is not because those officials correctly understood that the alleged threat was false, but instead views the inaction as part of a conspiracy. They take matters into their own hands and into the online enforcement community as it is.

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In itself, this can have a deterrent effect. People who approach a Dropbox to vote and are approached by people filming them, who might flag their activity as “suspicious” in posts shared with thousands of people, may understandably choose to come back and cast their vote at another time. (Arizonaans can also send their ballots back in the mail, which pretty much undermines the idea of ​​people stuffing mailboxes, but I digress.) The defamation lawsuit against the team behind 2000 Mules focused on the context in which Footage of the man voting (captured in official surveillance footage) was shown in the film and in promotional appearances.

A federal judge this week agreed that this surveillance counts as intimidation. U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi imposed restrictions on what the group Clean Elections USA (a member of which posted the photo without a license plate) was allowed to do near drop box locations. This was the most significant development since reports of Dropbox surveillance last month, but it wasn’t the only one. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (himself someone who has raised questions about the 2020 election) released a statement on voter intimidation. The sheriff of Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, made a similar request.

Sometimes the intimidation was more direct. Brnovich’s statement referred to this, noting “initial reports that groups of people, some armed and dressed in tactical gear, were encountered by voters casting their early ballots.” The statement ended by recommending that anyone who believes they are in imminent danger should call 911.

There were early indications that members of extremist groups intended to “surveillance” mailboxes. The Arizona Mirror reported in mid-October that members of the Oath Keepers intended to do so. (A group linked to the Oath Keepers ended its surveillance program last week.) This interference by extremist actors in election monitoring is not limited to Arizona, however.

In Michigan, a woman who was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and has ties to the Proud Boys was hired to work with campaign workers. In Florida, three people once associated with a splinter group of the Proud Boys extremist group volunteered to help. One of them was specifically denied as he faces federal charges in connection with the Capitol riots. The other two men are members of the Miami-Dade County Republican Executive Committee. Axios reported last month that the groups were working together to be present at the vote.

Again, the alleged motive for such an observation is voter fraud – something that happens infinitesimally rarely. It is clear that this is of course not the only motive; If the Proud Boys or others manage to influence whether someone actually votes, they are unlikely to have many concerns afterwards. We often talk about allegations of voter fraud as a channel to challenge elections that have already taken place. What we see in 2022 is these allegations being used to potentially frame elections on the front end.

If you want to monitor Dropboxes in Arizona, Maricopa County offers a live stream. It’s intensely boring. However, if you see something that you think is suspicious, there is an online community that would like to hear from you.

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