Salon: Far-right “constitutional sheriffs” now turn to hunting “fraud” in midterm elections
Salon: Far-right "constitutional sheriffs" now turn to hunting "fraud" in midterm elections
A controversial group of right-wing sheriffs that has spread false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election and propagated Donald Trump’s Big Lie is now vowing to monitor this year’s midterm elections through surveillance of drop boxes and a hotline for reporting purported election fraud.
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) supports the far-right fringe belief that under the U.S. Constitution county sheriffs have extensive power that supersedes all other federal, state or local authorities. It has recently partnered up with a Texas nonprofit called True the Vote, which has peddled conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Now the two groups are promising to keep on investigating allegations about a “stolen election” in 2020 and also to police future voting. For election authorities and voting rights advocates, the combination is ominous.
This partnership provides an insight into the role the “constitutional sheriff” movement is playing in sowing doubts about the election process and monitoring how voters cast their ballots. Such efforts amount to voter intimidation and voter suppression in many cases, advocates say. …
In Georgia, where Black and brown voters came out in record numbers, Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes, and Democrats later won two narrow runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats. Even though Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has repeatedly said there was no widespread fraud in the state’s elections, lawmakers enacted sweeping changes to its voting law that advocates say are likely to harm minority voters.
“By creating these new bureaucracies and this new red tape,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, lawmakers are “creating a cycle of voter intimidation.” This is “a relic of the past”, she went on, and too close to “what we saw in Jim Crow, with folks coming to people’s doors with guns and pitchforks, trying to ask, ‘Are you the registered voter here?'”
Her group has developed an election protection program meant to help dispel any doubts voters have about the election process and to ensure they don’t encounter barriers while casting their ballots. But Dennis says Georgia’s new law, SB 441, which authorizes state police to launch a probe into any allegations of voter fraud, worries her. Such unfounded allegations, she says, can create a “domino effect,” damaging voters “who are not in areas that are inundated with news and disempowering their voices at the ballot box,” Dennis said. “I think in Georgia particularly, [there] is a coordinated effort to purposely do that.”