Lara Trump, GOP Campaign To Recruit Poll Workers & Watchers In Bucks County

Its goal is to recruit 5,000 poll watchers, poll workers and legal experts to Pennsylvania.

By John Cole | Pennsylvania Capital-Star

RNC Co-Chair Lara Trump at the RNC’s “Protect the Vote” tour in Newtown.
Credit: John Cole/Capital-Star

The Republican National Committee (RNC) brought its new nationwide campaign aimed at recruiting 100,000 poll watchers, poll workers, and legal experts to Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

“We from the RNC have put in place an incredible election integrity program,” RNC Co-Chair Lara Trump said Tuesday. “This is unlike anything we’ve ever done before and it is to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.”

Trump, the daughter-in-law of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said the RNC wants to have “an army of people across this country, 100,000 people strong working around the country to ensure integrity in our election.” The RNC’s Pennsylvania target is to recruit at least 5,000 volunteers.

RNC Chairman Michael Whatley, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-9th District) joined Lara Trump Tuesday at the second stop on the “Protect the Vote Tour.” An RNC press release described it as a nationwide initiative to “champion election integrity, rally voters for President Trump, and train volunteers to ensure it is easy to vote and hard to cheat this November.”

The actual training session was closed to the press, so it is unclear how many stayed for that portion, but the room was filled with supporters to hear the politicians’ remarks Tuesday. 

Whatley told reporters after his speech that training includes directions for how to sign up as an election observer, training on what they are looking for in the role, and how to flag an issue if they see one. 

“We’re not there to be disruptive, what we want to make sure is everybody understands how it should be running and then if you see something, then you’re in a position to go ahead and flag it and raise the issue,” Whatley told reporters. 

When asked about the specific red flags that they are telling people to look for, he said it depended on the states, since each state has its own processes. 

“If this thing goes smoothly, this is a very boring job,” Whatley said. “And that’s really what we want is we want to make sure that all of the systems are going to operate very smooth, we want it to be fair, accurate, secure, and transparent.” 

Following the 2020 election, former President Trump repeated false claims that the election was stolen, although the courts ruled against efforts to overturn the results, including in Pennsylvania. He continues to claim on the campaign trail, without evidence, that the 2020 election was “rigged.” 

Whatley said Tuesday the three things needed to ensure election integrity were making sure the laws are followed, while making a plea for voter ID and ensure mail-in ballot protocols are being followed; having a national conversation about election integrity and being able to be in the room during the process of voting and tabulating.

The Democratic National Committee said Tuesday that the RNC has a different intent for its poll watching initiative than it claims. 

“Donald Trump is terrified that Pennsylvania voters will hand him another defeat in November, so he and his Republican allies are using whatever resources they have left to spread dangerous lies about rigged elections,” DNC spokesperson Addy Toevs told the Capital-Star. “The truth is much simpler than that: Trump is a loser. Trump knows that his best shot at a victory in November is to attempt to undermine our democratic process, just like he tried and failed to do in 2020.”

“Democrats will continue to fight for every voter’s right to make their voice heard — early, by mail, and in person on Election Day — free from intimidation, misinformation, or suppression,” Toevs added.

In 2016, the RNC’s attempt to change Pennsylvania’s poll watcher laws to allow people from anywhere in the state to monitor precincts on Election Day was rejected by a federal judge.

Whatley told reporters it was not something they planned on revisiting leading up to the 2024 election. 

“I think what we want to do right now is work within the rules that we have, work within the laws and the regulations that we have, make sure that everybody understands where we are and then we’re going to train people and make sure we deploy them, but we would like to have as many as 5,000 volunteers here in Pennsylvania that are going to be able to go out and work as poll workers and poll observers,” he said. 

When pressed by reporters about where in Pennsylvania those 5,000 people would be located, he said they were going to “look where people are going to be voting,” adding it would be throughout the commonwealth. 

He said the RNC already has staff deployed to Pennsylvania on the political and election integrity side to ensure they have people in place before November.

Mail-in voting pitch

Speakers at Tuesday’s event encouraged those in attendance to vote either on Election Day, early, or by mail. Trump, who has railed against mail-in voting for years, launched his “Swamp the Vote USA” effort on June 4 in an effort to encourage voters to vote by mail and vote early in the 2024 election. Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania does not have early in-person voting.

During Trump’s previous appearances in Pennsylvania, which were all prior to the launch of that initiative, he didn’t encourage attendees to vote by mail. On Tuesday, Lara Trump rejected the notion that it was a shift in strategy. 

“Well, he has told people. He’s put it out on his Truth Social, he actually made a video specifically saying ‘however you feel comfortable voting, whether it’s voting by mail, voting early, or voting on election day, those are all great ways to vote’,” she told reporters. “And I think the reality is we as a party should be embracing this more and we want every legal vote to count and however you can vote best and as early as you can vote, that’s exactly what we want you to do.”

In Pennsylvania, mail-in ballots are not allowed to be pre-canvassed, which is different from some other states with mail-in voting, and which adds time to tallying votes on Election Night. Reporters asked the RNC officials if they supported a change in the state’s law to speed up the process. 

“Right now, what I would say is we are working within the construct of every state and I mean, there are some changes that we’re going to be pushing, but that’s not one that we’re really kind of taking a look at,” Whatley told reporters.

“So, what we want is we want to make sure that we have a big enough majority that when people go to bed, they feel very comfortable about where this is going to go,” he added. “But we certainly understand in Pennsylvania and in other states that they’re going to be doing counts that are going to last a day, or they’ll last two days, or three days, but we want to make sure that there is a secure count, we want to make sure it’s accurate, it’s fair and it’s transparent as all of the ballots are going through the process.”

Trump returns to Pennsylvania

Trump is scheduled to be in Philadelphia on Saturday for a rally at the  Liacouras Center on Temple University’s campus for his his fourth visit to Pennsylvania in 2024. President Joe Biden has made eight appearances in Pennsylvania this year, most recently in Philadelphia with Vice President Kamala in late May to announce the launch of Black Voters for Biden-Harris at Girard College.

The Biden campaign jumped off to an early start in Pennsylvania, opening 24 coordinated offices across the commonwealth beginning in March. Trump’s campaign has recently ratcheted up its efforts in Pennsylvania by opening its first “Trump Force 47” office in Philadelphia on June 4 and opening an office on June 12 in Reading to appeal to Latino American voters.   

“We have President Trump’s popularity going way up, we have the commonwealth of Pennsylvania with some serious Biden buyer’s remorse,” Meuser, who objected to certifying Pennsylvania’s results in 2020 said Tuesday. “Who’s relating to this agenda of this Biden administration? Who in their right mind is actually relating to it? It’s a disaster from A to Z.” 

Biden and Trump have been neck-and-neck in polls over the past several months. A Marist poll released on June 12 showed Trump leading Biden by 2 points in the Keystone State.

Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania in 2020 by just over 80,000 votes.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news site dedicated to honest and aggressive coverage of state government, politics and policy.

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