US midterms: The new 'voting integrity' militias - Le Monde
The columnist in Le Monde, Gille Paris, writes about the US midterm elections as seen from his "French perspective." How did he see them?
In an article by the political columnist and former US correspondent, Gilles Paris, entitled "US midterms: The new 'voting integrity' militias", French newspaper Le Monde said that "Armed militias 'defending' the vote are the unexpected new element in the 2022 midterm elections."
The article wonders about what could possibly go wrong and adds that almost two years after the attack "against the US Capitol by a mob contesting the 2020 presidential election, a new player is trying to break into the midterms: armed militias claiming to protect the integrity of the vote."
Gilles Paris noted how dangerous this is, explaining that "It took a judge in Arizona, a ground zero for election denialism, to restate the obvious. Taking photos or videos of voters dropping their ballot at a voting box, posting information about them online, and openly carrying firearms and wearing body armor while patrolling around those voting places is more about intimidation than about protecting this civic duty (not to mention the fact that simply associating the words "firearms" and "polling station" makes any normal European brain go haywire)."
Paris talked about the lack of safety "when election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warn among other things in an interim report that 'these partisan observers may use their position to unduly interfere in the process on election day.'"
"An OSCE report using this kind of tone generally refers to a country of the former Soviet bloc with still faltering democratic institutions," Paris noted, "not a self-proclaimed model of democracy like the United States."
"The group involved in the Arizona court case, Clean Elections USA, said it was 'hunting mules'", Paris adds, explaining "mules" and relating it to a controversial documentary, 2,000 Mules, that was directed by a conservative activist who was convicted in 2014 of illegal campaign contribution but pardoned by ex-US president Donald Trump in 2018.
The documentary claimed that unnamed nonprofit organizations paid "mules," a slang term for smugglers, to illegally collect ballots in key swing states during the last presidential election.
Paris wrote that this "biased creation, laced with allegations of massive voter fraud that were subsequently proved to be false, is based on testimonies from groups that are on the front line today as well as a senior fellow from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank."
The documentary was an inspiration to Clean Election USA's founder, Melody Jennings, according to her claims.
"Clean Election USA is not the only group on the front line trying to 'defend' the integrity of the voting process. Led by Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who aided Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election, the Election Integrity Network is also involved in assembling what it calls an 'army of citizens' to monitor elections," Paris wrote.
Another active voice led by election conspiracy theorists is True the Vote, he added, mentioning that its two leaders were imprisoned for not adhering to a court order to provide data "in a defamation lawsuit over some of the claims they made in 2,000 Mules."
Paris reminded that in 2020, right before the presidential election, Donald Trump Jr. made an appeal to "every able-bodied man and woman to join the army for Trump’s election security operation".
While his call to action was not successful then, "his expected army of poll watchers might show up this year in what could be a dress rehearsal for the 2024 presidential election," Paris noted.
The columnist concluded his article by saying that things "could turn ugly" as former Trump strategic adviser Stephen Bannon warned that 'we’re going to be there and enforce those rules, and we’ll challenge any vote, any ballot, and you’re going to have to live with it, OK? We don’t care if you don’t like it. We don’t care if you’re going to run around and light your hair on fire. That’s the way this is going to roll.'"