‘Interesting’ Read: Goo-Goo Politics, But From the RIGHT!

I’m surprised that there haven’t been news stories about these mostly well-meaning, entirely deluded ‘citizen investigators’ being greeted with shotguns, frankly. From Sarah Mimms at Buzzfeed, “The Pro-Trump Conspiracy Internet Is Moving From Facebook To Your Doorstep”:

The man at the door said he was just there to verify some publicly available information.

In the home security video, he seems nervous and out of breath as he waits at the doorway, glancing frequently at his phone. Strangers don’t knock on doors much in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, a small ski town. For a decade, it had just 250 year-round residents, until the pandemic hit and a bunch of Massachusetts residents decided to cross state lines and turn their rural vacation spot into a home. But the man at the door wasn’t one of them. He said his name was Dean and he was with the New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group…

Around town that Saturday in early October, other people were knocking on doors — specific ones, the rare ones where people actually live year-round — asking about the 2020 election. They had information on the residents, their names, whether they voted and if they did so in-person or absentee. In response, two Waterville Valley residents called the cops, according to a police report.

Across the country, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory internet is manifesting itself into knocks at the door. Individual election deniers and grassroots groups are canvassing for election fraud in states lost or even won by former president Donald Trump in 2020, including New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska. Despite 60-plus court losses and countless official audits and recounts confirming the 2020 election results, many of Trump’s supporters are still so convinced of his lies that they’ve turned to this kind of vigilantism….

The New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group claims to be nonpartisan. Its founder, Marylyn Todd, a 37-year-old from Nashua, told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she is registered as an independent. Todd claimed in a Facebook message that “many” of their canvassers voted for President Joe Biden, but would not name them or connect them with BuzzFeed News. Todd also said that she has expanded canvassing across the state, focusing on towns where the group believes there is the most potential fraud, but she declined to name the towns they’ve visited. The group, she said, “is just trying to get to the bottom of the truth, nothing more, nothing less.”

Members of the group credit Dean, whose last name Todd declined to provide, with creating the app they use to track down voters. (Dean did not respond to questions messaged to his Telegram account nor to questions Todd said she shared with him via email.) The app is designed with a free site that Democrats have used in the past to canvass voters before an election. The app shows canvassers where to find nearby voters, as well as their addresses, whether they voted in 2020, if they voted in person or absentee, and whether they registered to vote same-day. The app asks canvassers to confirm that information and, if they find any discrepancies, to get voters to sign an affidavit and mail it to a P.O. box.

Todd said they are sharing those affidavits with members of the state legislature, “many” of whom are interested in their findings, but declined to provide names. She described affidavits the group collected from two households alleging election misconduct, but declined to share any names or details that could be fact-checked, citing the affiants’ privacy. The Trump campaign used affidavits as part of its failed legal strategy to challenge the 2020 election and held up the sworn statements to try to add some legitimacy to its bogus fraud claims, but, as the Washington Post noted at the time, many of those affidavits were never filed in court and the ones that were filed were often thrown out…

… Todd is new to all of this. She said she didn’t even know what a state representative was before February and that she “barely voted” before this year, but she now leads a group that has acquired the voting machine tapes and voter information for nearly every town in the state by filing a bunch of public information requests and going in-person to get their data. Todd is clearly passionate and believes her work as an auditor for an accounting firm gave her the experience to do her own audit of New Hampshire’s election. She took a leave of absence from that job in February to focus on what she calls their citizens audit. “Did I know that I was still going to be here almost a year later on a leave of absence?” she said, laughing. “No. But, you know, auditing a whole state isn’t as easy as I originally thought it was.”…

Todd told BuzzFeed News she was just crossing T’s on a new app where anyone can check 2020 voting data for themselves and their neighbors, making sure that it is identical to the public information they got from their right-to-know requests. “You know, my life has already been affected so much from this that I just don’t want it affected any more than it already is,” she said.

She said she has not enjoyed her first foray into politics, repeatedly calling it “dirty” and “gross.” But almost a year after she started all of this, Todd plans to keep going. “It’s important for me to keep America, America. And when I saw this much opportunity [for fraud], it made me nervous for the future generations,” she said.

If politics were less dirty, “if people were ethical,” she said, “I’d probably run for something.”

During the original Gilded Age, back in the days of William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, high-minded middle-class voters were enticed to become Goo-Goos, Good Government ‘reformers’ who strove to cleanse the ‘corrupt’ urban political enclaves where filthy immigrants in their teaming tenements were accused of trading their votes for city jobs — or for lesser gifts, like coal in the bitter winters or food for families of the unemployed. The ‘untrustworthy’ voters in those days spoke Italian / Gaelic / Polish, not Spanish / Creole / Hindi, but the impulse to ‘keep America, America’ from their depredations remains unchanged.

In theory, at least, those Goo-Goos were considered ‘progressives’, soft-handed liberals without the imagination or the experience to understand why a corrupt big-city ‘machine’ might look pretty good to new voters forever on the edge of eviction or starvation. In practice, the ‘reformers’ were shock troops for the small-town oligarchs whose private little baronies were at risk from a new form of post-Civil-War urban organization… which enticed their best young employees, and even their own grown children, into deserting their birthplaces, even as it enticed the new laborers pouring into the American heartland to meet the demand for more labor in the burgeoning industries and marketplaces.

Marylyn Todd is the spiritual descendant of Jay Gould’s and William Randolph Hearst’s publicly pious, privately self-interested crusades. And, unfortunately, she’s not the only willing cannon fodder out there…

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