Part of the reason Republicans hadn’t more effectively fought the election integrity battle before now is somewhat shocking. The 2020 contest was the first presidential election since Ronald Reagan’s first successful run in 1980 in which the Republican National Committee could play any role whatsoever in Election Day operations. For nearly 40 years, the Democratic National Committee had a massive systematic advantage over its Republican counterpart: The RNC had been prohibited by law from helping with poll watcher efforts or nearly any voting-related litigation.
Democrats had accused Republicans of voter intimidation in a 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial race. The case was settled, and the two parties entered into a court-ordered consent decree limiting Republican involvement in any poll-watching operation. But Dickinson Debevoise, the Jimmy Carter-appointed judge who oversaw the agreement, never let them out of it, repeatedly modifying and strengthening it at Democrats’ request.
Debevoise was a judge for only 15 years, but he stayed 21 years in senior status, a form of semi-retirement that enables judges to keep serving in a limited capacity. It literally took Debevoise’s dying in 2015 for Republicans to get out of the consent decree. Upon his passing, a new judge, appointed by President Obama, was assigned the case and let the agreement expire at the end of 2018.
This is from Mollie Hemingway, “If Republicans Win on Tuesday, Thank, the Election Integrity Movement,” The Federalist, November 4, 2022.
I think of myself as someone who pays a lot of attention to U.S. political issues, but I had had no idea that the Republican National Committee had been prevented for almost 40 years from engaging in poll-watching. That’s a huge disadvantage.
The RNC got involved in 73 election integrity cases in 20 states for the midterms, with plans to expand. They won a lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for restricting the rights of poll challengers; got Maricopa County, Arizona, to share key data about its partisan breakdown of poll workers; won an open records lawsuit against Mercer County, New Jersey, for refusing to share election administration data; won a lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections for restricting the rights of poll watchers; and reached a favorable settlement against Clark County, Nevada, in which the county agreed to share information about its partisan breakdown of poll workers on a rolling basis.
The whole thing is worth reading.