Trump supporters have been going door-to-door to question their neighbors about their voting habits in an apparent intimidation campaign.
Michelle Garcia, of Pueblo, Colorado, told NPR that two men knocked on her door last fall, and at first she assumed they were canvassing for a political candidate, but they instead told her they were "doing a voter verification project" related to the 2020 election.
"His specific questions were, 'Did you vote by mail-in ballot? How many times have you voted?'" Garcia said. "He wanted to know who I voted for, who I supported. How do I know that it wasn't changed, and a lot of it was targeted at the [county] clerk and recorder's office and that it was fraudulent."
Garcia told the men she'd never had any problems and did not wish to discuss her personal voting record, but she said that didn't stop the men from peppering her with questions.
"There was no boundaries with their ethics or with civility," she said. "They will push until you give an answer. They are very intimidating. It's not a question of, 'Do you think that this was done? How do you feel about it?' It is, 'We know that this is done. How do you know it wasn't?'"
In deeply conservative Mesa County, three women showed up at Anne Landman's door last summer with questions about the 2020 election.
"They just said they were canvassing, surveying, and asked if I voted in the last election, and I said yes," said Landman, a prominent Democratic activist in her heavily Republican community. "They said, 'Did your husband vote in the last election,' and I said, 'Yes, he did,' and they said, 'OK, thank you very much.'"
No evidence of widespread fraud has been found in the 18 months since Donald Trump lost the election, but many of his supporters remain convinced that he was robbed and have carried out illegal or legally dubious schemes to prove their belief.
"These groups claim to be 'election integrity groups' and nothing could be further from the truth — they're undermining public confidence in our elections with no proof of anything," said former GOP county clerk Matt Crane, who's now executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. "What they're doing is making it so much harder for those of us who are actually serious about election integrity, and trying to identify and close gaps in our processes, to get that kind of work done."
President Joe Biden won Colorado by about 13 percentage points, but the state has become one of the hotbeds for election denialism and gave birth to the U.S. Election Integrity Plan, which sent out volunteers to question individual voters like Garcia and Landman.
"It's not against the law for constituents to investigate their own elections," said conservative activist Sherronna Bishop, who helped organize canvassers in Mesa County. "There is no law against going door-to-door to figure out if people actually voted in the election that the certified data says they voted in."
That's technically true, but the U.S. Department of Justice warned last year in an open letter that some canvassing activity could be considered voter intimidation, and volunteers are not allowed to claim to be government agents -- and that's the perception that some voters have gotten when someone shows up at their door asking questions about their voting practives.
"They said they were giving the perception that they were with your office," Carly Koppes, the Republican county clerk in Weld County. "If you're giving that perception that you are a government official, it almost equates to the same as you saying that you're a police officer when you're not."
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