We all know that the Democrats will be up to their old dirty tricks on Election Day to make sure President Trump doesn’t win….’
(Headline USA) A veteran Republican operative who got his start in politics by helping to persuade a judge to throw out hundreds of illegal mail-in ballots is organizing an “army” of volunteers for President Donald Trump‘s campaign to monitor voting in Democratic-leaning areas, where cheating tactics are more likely, on Tuesday.
Mike Roman, Trump’s director of Election Day Operations, is a former White House aide from Pennsylvania who gathered evidence in 1993 of voter fraud, resulting in a court ruling overturning election results and getting his candidate seated in the Pennsylvania State Senate. His vigilance has already caught Democrat activists in some shenanigans:
There have been other reports of voter suppression in Pennsylvania’s Republican-dominant areas:
“Our Elections Day Operations are designed to make sure that everyone that is legally entitled to vote has the opportunity to vote, once,” Erin Perrine, the Trump 2020 director of press communications, says in a video aimed at recruiting volunteers. “We all know that the Democrats will be up to their old dirty tricks on Election Day to make sure President Trump doesn’t win. We cannot let that happen.”
For months the president has called attention to the fraud vulnerability of mail-in ballots, a method of voting that was increased this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last week, Trump has also suggested that votes tabulated after Election Day are suspect, even as his campaign has opposed plans by elections officials to start counting mail-in ballots early.
Roman, who previously ran the in-house intelligence unit for the political network led by GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch, has organized what the campaign claims is 50,000 poll watchers. Many many of them registered through an “Army For Trump” website that asks his supporters to “enlist” in his reelection fight. The campaign also has hired full-time staff in at least 11 battleground states to organize the effort, several of them young lawyers.
Trump’s Election Day operations effort is traditional poll-watching, long carried out by both parties. But Democrats who have followed Roman’s political career are worried that Trump’s team is interested more in sowing doubt about the vote than safeguarding it.
“Mike Roman has made many unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and rigging, he has a history and general reputation as someone who stirs things up, so his presence in any Election Day issues gives me pause,” said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, without providing evidence.
Trump 2020 spokeswoman Thea McDonald called such assertions “laughable.” She said the campaign’s “rule-abiding poll watchers” are simply trying to “ensure a fair election.”
Both campaigns have zeroed in on Pennsylvania as the battleground state that might decide the election. Speaking about the Keystone State on Sunday, Trump said that when election night is over, “We’re going in with our lawyers.”
“I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time,” Trump said. “They should have put their ballots in.”
Roman, who declined to comment for this story, has experience doing what Trump describes.
He got his political start running ballot security operations in Philadelphia for Republican Bruce Marks, who campaigned for the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1993 and lost narrowly to his Democratic opponent.
As Roman and Marks tell it in a June blog post on Marks’s website, control of the Pennsylvania State Senate turned on the race, and “the Democratic machine’s operatives descended on the District to steal the election.” Their legal team later showed a federal judge that there were so many ballots in some neighborhoods with irregularities that he threw out hundreds of ballots, overturning the result and sending Marks to a State Senate seat.
Marks said Roman’s working-class background gave him an innate understanding of ballot-box politics.
“He is not some Ivy leaguer with a bow tie; He learned what it is like to be exposed to elections and face voter fraud on the street,” said Marks, adding that Roman grew up in a rowhouse. “If there are problems on Election Day and after, I am ready and willing to help. Mike is a great guy.”
In the 2008 presidential election, Roman made a splash by promoting a video of two intimidating members of the New Black Panther Party standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia, one of them holding a billy club. Though no violence occurred, the video was hyped nationally by those on the right as evidence of Democratic voter intimidation, while those on the left criticized it as an attempt to stoke racial divisions during the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Violence and destruction this year, inflicted by leftist groups in major cities, have only heightened Republican concerns about potential Democrat voter intimidation.
The New Black Panther video raised Roman’s profile within the Republican Party, and he soon landed a job at the Koch network investigating cheating Democrats, environmental activists and others on the left. A 2014 tax return for the Koch-supported Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Inc. lists Roman’s title as vice president of research, and says he was paid more than $285,000 in annual salary and benefits.
In 2016, the Kochs disbanded the intelligence unit and Roman went to work for the Trump campaign organizing poll-watching operations. After Trump won, Roman landed a job in the office of then-White House counsel Don McGahn as director of special projects and research, though it is not immediately clear what his duties entailed.
Roman left the White House in 2018 and soon shifted back to Trump’s campaign, as is common practice in re-election campaigns. There he has led an aggressive effort that hasn’t waited for Election Day to begin challenging the voting process, as has also been the case with Democrats and their litigation teams.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.