Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears during the Presidential Debate on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. (Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)
The midterms are still three weeks away, but former President Donald Trump is already boosting wild conspiracies about ballot-stuffing. And election deniers are on board and making fraudulent claims. Earlier this week, a picture was posted on Reddit by a user who claimed it showed that “ballot stuffing has already begun in Arizona.” The post included an image of someone at an early voting drop box, and the evidence provided for “ballot stuffing” was the fact that the car’s license plate was supposedly obscured.
The photo, it turns out, was taken by a volunteer working with Clean Elections USA, a right-wing grassroots group dedicated to monitoring dropboxes around the clock and catching so-called ”ballot mules.”“My dedicated dropbox watching team caught this and sent it up the chain. What do you see in the picture?” Melody Jennings, the founder of the group, asked in a post on Truth Social that was shared by Trump to his 3.1 million followers.Clean Elections USA is one of dozens of so-called grassroots groups that have appeared out of nowhere in the wake of the widely-debunked 2000 Mules election conspiracy film produced by far-right star Dinesh D’Souza. The group is determined to prove that Democrats are trying to steal the 2022 midterm elections by stuffing voting drop boxes full of fraudulent ballots. And three weeks out from the election, they’re already inciting fear and anger among Trump’s supporters.
Jennings claims the group operates legally by collecting video footage of those using the drop boxes, and does not confront or engage with anyone they encounter. But fans of their work want even more. One user on the Reddit thread where the picture originally appeared commented that volunteers need to go further.“You want evidence? Set it to video, wait until he’s pulled a stack of ballets [sic] out of his car, get a few fellow law-abiding citizens to hold the guy down, call the cops and point out the likely car full of fucking ballets. That’s the only way anything is going to stop,” the user wrote.
Other users claimed the Democrats had already won because election fraud was so rampant, but another user responded ominously: “It’s only lost when you give up your second amendment.”On Tuesday, Jennings, who has appeared on multiple QAnon shows, shared another blurry image on her Truth Social. This time, she claimed it was taken at a drop box in Mesa, Arizona. “This guy drove in backwards to avoid plate detection. Got out showing his back. Pulled ballots out of his shirt. I need people there tonight to help my people,” Jennings wrote, without providing any evidence of her claim.
Trump shared half a dozen of her posts, including a video of her appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast where she outlined what her group was doing around the upcoming elections.“We’ve got people ready to go in 18 states to go out in shifts and guard these boxes,” Jennings told Trump’s former senior adviser. “We’ve got people out there, on the ground and doing the work.”