“In the event that they’re being obstructionary and slowing down the method, that’s going to be incredibly difficult,” she said.
Ms. Mitchell said election officials “should not have any problem with residents asking questions and helping them do their jobs higher.” She noted the activists are instructed to be courteous and respectful.
Indeed, on the Harrisburg training, Jenny Beth Martin, the leader of Tea Party Patriots, a conservative advocacy group, suggested activists use a three-word response at any time when they turn into frustrated with officials: “Bless your heart,” she said.
A Test Run in Virginia
Ms. Mitchell has repeatedly held up Virginia, and particularly Fairfax County, because the national model. Ahead of last 12 months’s governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin, a Republican businessman, and Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic former governor, she helped a Virginia nonprofit organize dozens of groups right into a coalition. The network ultimately trained 4,500 poll watchers and election staff and arranged 18 local task forces, a number that has since doubled, organizers say.
In Fairfax, a Democratic bastion outside Washington, about three dozen activists related to the coalition and the local Republican Party rotated through election offices, combing through voter registration applications, undeliverable mail and other materials. Christine Brim, the duty force’s leader, appeared in person or emailed staff nearly every single day, based on Scott Konopasek, the registrar on the time. The operation ate up county staff’ time with dozens of knowledge requests, in addition to informal interrogations, Mr. Konopasek said.
“Every little thing they saw that they didn’t understand was fraud of their minds and that’s how they might frame the questions,” he said. “It was all the time accusatory.”
Steve Knotts, the Fairfax County G.O.P. chairman, said the activists were merely attempting to get answers, particularly since the state had initiated latest voting procedures. But election officials would often dodge their questions or brush them off, he said.