Election Fraud Task Forces and the Threat of Voter Intimidation

State “voter fraud” task forces have cropped up across the country. Behind language about ensuring fair elections, the groups use the specter of widespread voter fraud to undermine confidence in elections and dissuade voters from participating in democracy, including through mail-in ballots.

The boogeyman of widespread voter fraud has lived on, even after the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity disbanded without having come up with any new or credible evidence of such a threat. Its latest form 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.

President Donald Trump’s and conservatives’ repeated claims of the democratic dangers of absentee voting are unfounded, but they have turned the issue of access to the ballot during a deadly pandemic into one of partisan wrangling and misguided anxiety. And as more states look to increase access to vote-by-mail during the 2020 election, those that have launched voter fraud task forces to investigate the supposed threat have 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 create 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. 

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