The boogeyman of widespread voter fraud haunted the 2020 election, having lived on even after former President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity disbanded without having come up with any new or credible evidence of such a threat. One form it has taken is that of state “voter fraud task forces” — groups that purport to be for the safeguarding of fair elections, but whose existence serves to heighten fear over legitimate forms of democratic participation.
Trump’s and conservatives’ repeated claims of the democratic dangers of absentee voting are unfounded, but they turned the issue of access to the ballot during a deadly pandemic into one of partisan wrangling and misguided anxiety. And as more states looked to increase access to vote-by-mail during the 2020 election, those that launched voter fraud task forces to investigate the supposed threat created a new method of suppressing the vote.
At the same time, similar efforts at the national level, including the Republican Party’s multimillion-dollar plan to recruit tens of thousands of volunteer “poll watchers,” also created a possibility for voter intimidation. American Oversight is looking into the work of these groups in multiple states, from Georgia’s Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force to Kentucky’s Absentee Ballot Integrity Task Force and Nevada’s Election Integrity Task Forces.