John P. Child has a strong opinion on the 2020 presidential election: “I think it was robbed, fair and square.”
He’s not one to stage a coup, he says. But he no longer trusts local officials to organize the elections.
So, like a growing number of Americans who support former President Donald Trump, he took training courses from conservative groups on how to be a poll watcher in the 2022 midterm elections. This time he will be able to see for himself.
It’s part of a nationwide movement led by MAGA influencers who have been circulating false information about voter fraud, with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon being the most high-profile.
In a recent episode of his “War Room” podcast, Bannon said, “Biden is illegitimate, and we are going to prove it. … This will never happen again.
Bannon hosts many guests who are working to build an army of conservative election workers, like Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who tried to help overturn the 2020 election. “Across the country, we’re deploying people to watch the polls and watch everything that’s going on,” Mitchell said.
Some of these MAGA influencers travel the country. David Clements tells crowds that voting machines are extremely vulnerable. He concludes his presentation with a moving appeal that audience members do more than consume content. “You have to get in the ring,” he said in Michigan. “You can’t fight that on social media.”
It has a real effect. CNN caught up with Child, a real estate agent, outside of a training run by Delaware County Conservatives in suburban Philadelphia. The organizer had only planned for a few people, but about a dozen showed up and she had to look for more chairs.
Child showed CNN the training materials, which go over many technical and procedural details about how votes are counted after polls close — and whether each is a way to cheat. They cast a cloud of suspicion over the vote without any evidence.
“My head was spinning at the end,” he said of the presentation, explaining that he went to the seminar a second time to better understand the issue.
“I would vote, you know, every time and…push the buttons and go home,” he said. “And the seminar basically showed us what happens after you vote. And that’s what opened my eyes.
“The only thing I remember very well was the paper in the touch writer,” he said of what he learned about the special materials needed that weren’t paper. ordinary.
“So if you see Hammermill is out, you’re supposed to say, hey, stop, stop the procedure.”
The child raised some debunked allegations of voter fraud. When CNN showed him proof that the claims were false, he accepted it — he was even friendly about it. But he couldn’t help thinking that something was wrong. He thought elections should go back to paper ballots and a single day of voting.
Paper track: “People come up to us at county council meetings and say, ‘We have to use paper ballots!’ And I’m like, ‘We’re using paper ballots. Do you understand that we use paper ballots?” Delaware County Councilwoman Christine Reuther told CNN. “Votes are cast on a paper ballot and then they are scanned and the results of that vote are tabulated on the scanner. But you’re not really voting on the scanner, you’re voting on the paper ballot, and that paper ballot is kept as a record of the voter’s vote.
At a county council meeting, it was clear officials were frustrated with the many citizens who used the public comment period to make false claims about voter fraud. That frustration makes sense: Delaware County has now fought 15 lawsuits against 2020 election deniers. It has won them all. But the county told CNN it cost $250,000. Reuther said she was worried about the time and money this movement would consume with the midterm elections and the 2024 elections.
Pennsylvania may have some of the most scrutinized races nationally, with a U.S. Senate seat and governorship on the line. Delaware County was once a Republican stronghold, but has grown steadily more Democratic over the past decade. . In the last election, the entire county council became Democrat for the first time.
“These things are fairy tales,” Carl Belis, who has run in multiple elections, told CNN of public comments claiming voting machines were vulnerable to fraud.
Belis was not worried about working this election in Delaware County. If anyone tried to disrupt the vote, the police would be called. “Across the country? Yeah, I think there’s definitely going to be trouble. That’s why I tell people, ‘Be ready now. Don’t be stupid like January 6th.'”
The kid says he just wants the rules to be followed. And if the Democrats win, he will go on with his life. “What, am I going to start a revolt? No,” he said. “You have to accept it. What else are you going to do?
Read the full story here and watch the interview below: