In the United States, the mobilization of an “army” of pro-Trump observers worries before the mid-term elections

Influential personalities, from the movement that continues to deny Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, are mobilizing a ” army “ self-proclaimed vigilantes to monitor the electoral process, a maneuver likely to cause chaos, intimidation and violence according to experts.

These conservative figures, like the populist Steve Bannon, use disinformation and conspiracy to urge thousands of people to participate in monitoring the electoral process. In this respect, the November 8 midterm elections will serve as a test for the American democratic system.

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In his “War Room” podcast, Steve Bannon this month encouraged his listeners to sign up to hold the polls, a “call to arms” Politics. Mid-term elections “can’t end like 2020”he launched.

Egotic discourse, denial of reality, nods to QAnon: Trump’s meetings are becoming radicalized

Sentenced Friday, October 21 to four months in prison for refusing to cooperate in the parliamentary investigation into the assault on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, on January 6, 2021, Steve Bannon appealed.

“Steve Bannon’s Appeal […] creates a real possibility that the election season will be chaotic”advance to AFP Jennifer McCoy, professor of political science at Georgia State University.

“We could potentially see a lot of confusion, with voters prevented from voting and many problems during the counting of votes if these new poll workers and partisan observers challenge the results that they do not like. »

“Citizens’ Army”

Among the guests on Steve Bannon’s podcast is Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer involved in Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential outcome in his favor, who is now part of the effort to raise a “citizens’ army” Conservatives to monitor the elections. She assures that her organization, called “Election Integrity Network”, has trained more than 20,000 election observers throughout the country, most in key states that could determine the outcome of the ballot.

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“The left has been counting and controlling the electoral process without our oversight for too long. This period is over »wrote Cleta Mitchell on her website earlier this year.

Donald Trump, messiah of the QAnon conspirators

A “guide” distributed by his organization at training sessions across the country recommends that citizens be “always present” in the polling stations, question the electoral authorities and carefully check that the people wishing to vote have the right to do so. Another guideline: find out if local judicial officials are “friends or foes”.

“By supporting aggressive but vague instructions, and raising the unfounded specter of widespread fraud, this groundbreaking effort to raise an ‘army’ of citizens could lead to voter disruption and intimidation, massive protests, breaches in electoral security and other forms of offences”writes Mekela Panditharatne of the Brennan Center for Justice research institute at New York University.

“Electoral autocracy”

Authorities in Arizona have indicated that they are “deeply concerned” security conditions around the vote, after the discovery of two individuals in paramilitary equipment monitoring a metal box where voters in this state can deposit their ballot in advance.

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According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll relayed on Wednesday, October 26 by “Forbes”, 43% of Americans questioned fear intimidation attempts and “threats of violence” during the vote.

“Observing the vote in a neutral way is one thing, doing it in an intimidating way for voters potentially belonging to the opposing party is another”told AFP Larry Diamond, a researcher at the Hoover Institution, a research institute at Stanford University.

“If pro-Trump extremists, who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election, ‘watch’ the polls in a way that intimidates some voters, such as people from minorities or very Democratic constituencies, that could threaten the election integrity. »

Will Trump explain the assault on the Capitol?

Cleta Mitchell, who did not respond to interview requests from AFP, does not appear to be short of funds. His organization belongs to a pro-Trump institute which raised nearly $20 million in 2021, including $1 million received from an organization founded by the former Republican president after his defeat.

Faced with this widespread electoral denial, historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat warns that the United States risks becoming a “electoral autocracy”. Donald Trump and his supporters, she argues, “seek to completely delegitimize the elections. The objective is to associate voting and corruption, to the point that the idea of ​​relying on elections to appoint its leaders is compromised in the eyes of public opinion. »

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