RNC laser-focused on vote monitoring, committed to enlisting 100,000 poll volunteers

RNC laser-focused on vote monitoring, committed to enlisting 100,000 poll volunteers

Chair Michael Whatley led a "poll watcher training" on Friday on Long Island.

ByBrittany Shepherd and Lalee Ibssa

June 21, 2024, 7:54 PM

    The Republican National Committee is launching a nationwide recruitment effort for poll workers ahead of November's election as former President Donald Trump continues to spread doubts about election security.

    The RNC says it has promised Trump it will enlist at least 100,000 people to serve as poll watchers, poll workers, and poll judges -- and have kicked off what they are calling the "Protect Your Vote" tour, holding in-person and virtual training sessions in battleground states such as Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

    On Friday, RNC Chairman Michael Whatley emphasized the committee's commitment to the effort above nearly all others, stressing a refocus of priorities at a stop on New York's Long Island.

    "We cannot be all things to all people. We are going to do two things, and we are going to do only two things. We are going to get out the vote, and we are going to protect the ballot -- that's it," Whatley told a packed room of volunteers in Westbury Friday morning, flanked by top local Republican brass. "The most important thing we can do is get back to basics."

    (New York, notably, has been a reliably Democratic haven for decades, though Trump now says he believes a major flip is within his grasp, following a string of down-ballot GOP wins in The Empire State's "purple" suburbs during the midterm elections.)

    PHOTO: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley addresses an election integrity volunteer training group, June 18, 2024, in Newtown, Pa.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley addresses an election integrity volunteer training group, June 18, 2024, in Newtown, Pa.Derik Hamilton/AP

    MORE: Republican Party pushing mail-in voting despite Trump's opposition

    Part of Whatley's retooled approach at the RNC is an emphasis on early, mail-in voting, a practice Trump once called "corrupt." Trump has now shifted his stance, and Whatley hopes voters will follow suit. To this end, the committee has launched "Swamp the Vote USA," a website that instructs supporters how to submit their ballots before Election Day, featuring a video of Trump endorsing those various methods.

    Whatley told ABC News after Friday's event he sees no indication that supporters are being sheepish about early voting. In fact, he expects nearly half of all votes to be cast before Election Day.

    "We want to make sure that everybody understands on the Republican side, as the president has said, multiple times, it's great to vote early. It's great to vote by mail. It's great to vote on Election Day," Whatley said.

    He's also directing resources to ensure the "right rules of the road" are in place, meaning interfacing with various boards of elections, secretaries of state, governors, and local and state parties to alter or add laws that align with their efforts to monitor voting.

    The goal is to have volunteers supervise polling sites in order to monitor early and Election Day voting in order to ensure that elections are "secure and transparent and inspire voter confidence."

    "You have to be in the room," stressed Whatley. "We need Republican attorneys and Republican volunteers serving as poll workers and poll judges and poll observers in any room where voting is taking place or votes or being counted. It's absolutely critical for us to be in the room."

    MORE: Trump endorses daughter-in-law Lara Trump for RNC co-chair

    In these training sessions, volunteers learn about how to monitor polling sites in accordance with state law and interact with Whatley and RNC Co-Chair Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, as well as other local GOP officials, to increase engagement.

    The committee has also set up an "election integrity" department with staff deployed across the nation to keep in constant contact with the trained volunteers.

    "No one can sit idly by during this election, and we are excited to help every patriot play a role in the most important election of our lifetime," Lara Trump said in a press release announcing the Protect the Vote tour.

    Whatley denied criticism that he, and the Republican Party broadly, are participating in election denialism.

    "I'm not an election denier, I'm an election winner," said Whatley. "Republicans, Independents, and Democrats want to know that the sanctity of their ballot is going to allow their vote to count."

    Even still the initiative comes as Trump and his Republican allies have continued to spread unfounded claims about prior and forthcoming elections.

    "We need to watch the vote. We need to guard the vote," Lara Trump said while speaking at Turning Point's "The People Convention" in Michigan last weekend. "It's so corrupt, the whole election process."

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