Donald Trump has spent the last three years alleging that the 2020 election was rigged against him. The former president and his allies have done everything in their power to prove Joe Biden’s win was fraudulent, to no avail, because it wasn’t. Team Trump has simultaneously been laying the groundwork to make sure the 2024 election goes their way and, if it doesn’t, that their effort to bend the results in their favor will be more successful next year than it was after Trump’s reelection effort went down in flames.
Rolling Stone’s Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng dove into the intricacies of Team Trump’s preparations for 2024, revealing that the former president’s efforts are far more sophisticated than they were in 2020, involving everything from “auditioning” lawyers to challenge the results months in advance to creating software friendly states can use to tilt voter rolls in the GOP’s favor. Here are five key takeaways from their investigation:
Trump is determined to do ‘everything’ possible to win in 2024
Trump and his allies have been working since his 2020 defeat to game the system in his favor ahead of a third run at the White House. As Rawnsley and Suebsaeng write:
Trump has spent the past three years moaning to friends at his clubs, to conservative lawmakers, and to political advisers that Democrats will try to “cheat” again, and that the GOP must do “everything” it can to make sure liberals are “stopped,” according to four people familiar with this matter.
One key component of this effort, Rolling Stone reports, is making sure the government is stocked with allies, and that the Republican Party is wholly compliant. It has been, with the Republican National Committee, and the former president himself, calling for supporters to descend on polling places to “watch” for any suspicious activity. Republicans in several states have also been cracking down on mail-in ballots, which generally are used more by Democratic voters.
It’s all part of an effort to “hit the Democrats on all sides,” as a person close to Trump describes his thinking to Rolling Stone.
Trump is already auditioning lawyers to challenge the 2024 election
Trump’s crack team of election attorneys after the 2020 election included since-indicted Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis. A person close to Trump tells Rolling Stone says he is intent on assembling a “better, smarter legal team,” and that the former president has already been “auditioning” conservative lawyers who could help him challenge the 2024 results, including through post-election audits of mail-in ballots.
Cleta Mitchell — who was on the January, 2021 call on which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to surpass Biden in the state — is a major player in Trump’s effort to tilt the scales in his direction in 2024. He’s touted her as “very important” to his election efforts as recently as September. Trump’s praise for Mitchell isn’t surprising considering her devotion to the lie that he won in 2020. She’s doing whatever she can to make sure he returns to the White House, with one Trump attorney describing her to Rolling Stone as “too militant, even for me.”
Team Trump has a vendetta against an election integrity organization used by both parties
Trump and his allies, including Cleta Mitchell, have been working to stop states from using data provided by Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to spot voting irregularities and identify unregistered voters. Thirty-three Republican and Democratic states did so, but nine GOP-led states have ditched the data in the past two years — thanks in part to conspiracy theories that it is part of the nonexistent Democratic election-rigging apparatus. Trump wrote on Truth Social in March that Republican governors should “immediately pull out of ERIC,” describing it as a “terrible voter registration system that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.”
It’s bad news if states stop using data from that organization, ERIC
“ERIC is quite possibly the most valuable, useful tool that we have to strengthen election integrity,” Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt, a Republican, tells Rolling Stone.
The states Trump’s team have convinced to stop using ERIC have found themselves deprived of accurate voter data, which is not good. “The data is going to be garbage and potentially result in voters being disenfranchised,” Schmidt says. “You cannot just use, for example, name and birthday to go about taking steps to remove a voter. That will result in a terrific number of false matches.”
David Becker, one of ERIC’s founders who left the organization this year amid right-wing pressure, notes that inaccurate voter lists will create long lines on Election Day, mail-in voting issues, and general delays in determining a winner of the election. “The bigger potential damage here is that election losers — people who have lost an election or perceive themselves to be about to lose an election — will have more time and more space to create false narratives about an election being stolen,” Becker tells Rolling Stone.
Trump’s allies are trying to promote a MAGA version of the ERIC
Trump allies have developed EagleAI, a new tool to fill the void in the states that have ditched ERIC. It uses problematic data, however, like property-tax records, which exclude anyone living in apartments. Schmidt, Pennsylvania’s Republican Secretary of the Commonwealth, calls it “totally unreliable.”
Schmidt adds that it would likely result in “a terrific number of challenges to voters who are registered and eligible.” This could wind up overwhelming already-overwhelmed election officials with countless challenges eligibility sort, as well as potential litigation. It’s another way for Trump’s team to muddy the waters and cast doubt on election integrity.
EagleAI claims that “hundreds of individuals and county election offices in 23 states” have shown interest in using it.