Trump campaign launches effort to fight voter fraud

Former U.S. President Trump's criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records continues in New York
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By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee launched a program on Friday to combat voter fraud in the lead-up to the November election, even as voting irregularities have proven extremely rare in the United States.

The RNC and the Trump campaign said they were preparing to deploy more than 100,000 attorneys and volunteers across the states that are expected to be competitive in the presidential race.

The Republican Party and the Trump campaign said in a statement that they plan to recruit an army of poll watchers, who will monitor individual polling sites for irregularities.

Attorneys, meanwhile, will be stationed at "Republican Party War Rooms" in competitive states, where they will staff an "Election Integrity Hotline" to answer calls from poll watchers and voters who have observed possible irregularities.

"Having the right people to count the ballots is just as important as turning out voters on Election Day," Trump said in a statement.

"Republicans are now working together to protect the vote and ensure a big win on November 5th!"

The RNC ran a voter integrity program during the 2022 congressional elections, though the 2024 effort appears to represent a significant step up in terms of its scope and ambition.

During this election cycle, the RNC has already engaged in 82 lawsuits in 25 states related to election integrity, the committee said in the Friday statement.

Since launching his reelection campaign in late 2022, Trump has continued to falsely claim he lost the 2020 election due to widespread voter fraud, despite a lack of supporting evidence and dozens of failed lawsuits seeking to establish foul play.

Echoed by many of his allies in Congress, Trump's false claims about voter fraud have been absorbed broadly by the Republican electorate, a majority of which does not believe Biden was legitimately elected, according to opinion polls.

On the campaign trail, Trump has sought to portray Democratic voters as chronic cheaters who cannot be trusted.

During a speech in Iowa in December he told supporters to be ready to "guard the vote" in Democratic-run cities, and more recently he has demanded his backers vote in such large numbers as to render the election "too big to rig" by the Democrats.

Asked about the latest Republican initiative, the Biden campaign referred questions to the Democratic National Committee. The DNC accused Trump and the RNC of trying to undermine the vote in November.

"Donald Trump knows he's running a losing campaign, so he's working with his handpicked team of election deniers at the RNC to once again lay the groundwork to undermine our democracy and spread baseless lies about a rigged election," said DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd.

While most Republican poll watchers have conducted themselves peacefully, there have been many reports of alleged intimidation by poll watchers in recent elections that have drawn the attention of election officials in competitive states, including North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Washington; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)