Voter Fraud Task Forces and Their Threat to Democracy

En Español

In the midst of a global pandemic and an international movement against police brutality, an inconspicuous but potentially effective form of voter suppression is growing across the country: voter fraud task forces. Shaped after President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — which disbanded in 2018 after failing to find any credible evidence to support Trump’s accusations of widespread voter fraud — these groups exist to use fear tactics that dissuade voters from participating in democracy. 

Many of the voter fraud task forces are now targeting new efforts to allow citizens to vote by mail in upcoming elections — a proposal that multiple states are considering in light of the safety risks posed by voting in person during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite a lack of data, opponents of mail-in voting have been vocal about its alleged potential for fraud, and the following states have launched investigations into the supposed threat:

West Virginia: In April, West Virginia launched its Election Fraud Task Force to “identify, investigate and prosecute fraud” in its upcoming June primary election. Last month, following what he acknowledged to be an “isolated incident” of ballot-request tampering, Secretary of State Mac Warner warned voters to be on alert for “intimidation or coercion” and to contact the task force with any suspicions. 

Georgia: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger launched the state’s Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force in April. The new group, composed of prosecutors and election officials appointed by Raffensperger, will investigate mismatched voter signatures and duplicate or nonresidential addresses. Georgia previously faced three federal lawsuits in 2008, 2016 and 2018 for its “exact match” law, which placed tens of thousands of voter registrations on hold over the course of its 12-year run. The law was finally scrapped in 2019.

Kentucky: In May, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Attorney General Daniel Cameron launched a Ballot Integrity Task Force made up of election officials and law enforcement professionals. “The biggest challenge I have right now is making the concept of absentee voting less toxic for Republicans,” Adams said.

Nebraska: According to a local Omaha report, in Nebraska, state and local elections officials are working with the Omaha bureau of the FBI to keep close watch over elections. 

Also of Note

Florida: Just last month, Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement concluded its 18-month-long investigation into allegations of voter fraud stemming from the 2018 ballot recount. Statewide Prosecutor Nick Cox said the investigation findings “lack[ed] sufficient evidence to support prosecution.”

Similar efforts on the national level — including the Republican Party’s plan to recruit 50,000 volunteers to act as “poll watchers” — are taking place as states expand voting by mail. As these state task forces begin their work, American Oversight will monitor their actions as a part of our State Accountability Project. We have filed open records requests with Georgia’s secretary of state and attorney general seeking records related to the Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force’s work, communications concerning the task force, and communications among task force members. Those requests and the state’s responses — including the claim by the office of Georgia’s attorney general that it had no responsive records — are available here.

 

Equipos de Trabajo Especiales de Fraude Electoral y Su Amenaza a la Democracia

En medio de una pandemia global y un movimiento internacional en contra de la brutalidad policial, una forma de supresión de votantes inadvertida pero potencialmente efectiva está creciendo a través del país: grupos especiales de supuesto fraude electoral. Similar a la Comisión Asesora Presidencial sobre Integridad Electoral del presidente Trump — cual se disolvió en 2018 después de fallar en encontrar alguna evidencia creíble para apoyar las acusaciones de Trump de fraude electoral extendido — estos grupos existen para usar tácticas de temor para disuadir a los votantes de participar en la democracia.

Muchos de los grupos especiales de fraude electoral ahora están determinando como objetivo los nuevos esfuerzos para permitir a los ciudadanos votar por correo — una propuesta que muchos estados están considerando a luz de los riesgos de salud planteados por la pandemia de coronavirus. A pesar de una falta de pruebas, adversarios del voto por correo han sido vocales sobre su supuesto potencial para fraude, y los siguientes estados han lanzado investigaciones sobre la supuesta amenaza: 

West Virginia: En abril, West Virginia lanzó su Equipo de Trabajo Especial para Fraude Electoral para “identificar y enjuiciar el fraude” en sus elecciones primarias en junio. En mayo, después de que él reconoció como un “incidente aislado” de manipulación de la solicitud de votación, el Secretario de Estado Mac Warner advirtió a los votantes a estar en alerta máxima por “intimidación o coerción” y a contactar el equipo de trabajo especial con cualquier sospecha. 

Georgia: El Secretario de Estado de Georgia Brad Raffensperger lanzó el Equipo de Trabajo Especial para el Fraude en el Voto en Ausencia en abril. El nuevo grupo, compuesto de fiscales y funcionarios electorales apuntados por Raffensperger, investigará firmas disparejas y direcciones duplicadas o no residenciales de votantes. El estado de Georgia previamente enfrentó tres demandas federales en 2008, 2016 y 2018 por su ley de “correspondencia exacta,” la cual suspendió decenas de miles de registros de votantes en el transcurso de sus 12 años en vigencia. La ley finalmente fue eliminada en 2019.

Kentucky: En mayo, el Secretario de Estado de Kentucky Michael Adams y el Fiscal General Daniel Cameron lanzaron el Equipo de Trabajo Especial de Integridad de la Boleta compuesto de funcionarios de elecciones y agentes policiales profesionales. “El desafío más grande que yo tengo ahora es hacer que el concepto del voto en ausencia sea menos tóxico para los Republicanos,” dijo Adams. 

Nebraska: De acuerdo a un informe local de Omaha, en Nebraska, funcionarios de las elecciones locales y estatales están trabajando con la oficina del FBI en Omaha para vigilar muy de cerca las elecciones. 

Destacable

Florida: Solo en mayo, el Departamento de Policía de Florida concluyó su investigación de 18 meses sobre alegaciones de fraude electoral a raíz del recuento de boletas en 2018. El fiscal estatal Nick Cox dijo que los resultados de la investigación “faltan evidencia suficiente para apoyar acusaciones.” 

Esfuerzos similares a nivel nacional — incluyendo el plan del Partido Republicano para reclutar 50,000 voluntarios para funcionar como “observadores de votación” — se están tomando lugar mientras estados extienden el voto por correo. Mientras estos equipos de trabajo especiales en los estados empiezan su trabajo, American Oversight va a monitorizar sus acciones como parte de nuestro Proyecto Estatal de Rendición de Cuentas. Hemos presentado solicitudes de registros abiertos con el Secretario de Estado y fiscal general de Georgia buscando registros relacionados al trabajo del Equipo de Trabajo Especial para el Fraude en el Voto en Ausencia, comunicaciones sobre el equipo de trabajo, y comunicaciones entre miembros del equipo de trabajo. Estas solicitudes y sus respuestas — incluyendo la declaración del fiscal general de Georgia que no tiene registros que responden a nuestras solicitudes — están disponibles aquí.

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