ISD’s Head of Election Integrity, Jiore Craig, features in TIME speaking about the surge in poll watchers using ‘battle language’ since the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement first began. Watchers, a formerly “boring job often delegated to retirees and volunteers, has taken on an action-hero role for people who see themselves as engaged in a fight to save the country from another stolen election,” writes journalist Vera Bergengruen.
Like the name suggests, the watchers watch from a distance that no abnormalities take place at election polls. However, lately they also partake in practices like straining local resources with public-records requests and sometimes intimidation tactics that are just within the legal scope.
‘The requests are a cynical attempt to strain resources,’ Jiore tells TIME. “They are telling their followers what they have a right to do, and sort of making that an administrative burden…to keep their base engaged and wear down officials.”
“People who are recruiting to do shifts for dropbox monitoring or poll watchers, we are seeing in quite a few cases that they are very aware of voter intimidation laws,” Jiore explains. “They are using language that implies that this is a battle and implies that election watchers are going to be the last line of defense, and using pictures of people in military gear when they when they post about hosting a training.”
ISD’s online monitoring suggests that the voters often turned off by the ‘calls to action’ and are more concerned with abiding by those very voter intimidation laws being used.