RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When Donald Trump's campaign took issue with a new rule on processing some votes in North Carolina, it didn't just complain to the Board of Elections or even file a lawsuit. It wrote to some of the state's 100 local election offices with extraordinary guidance: Ignore the rule.
“The NC Republican Party advises you to not follow the procedures,” Heather Ford wrote in an email to county officials last week.
The email urging defiance was a small glimpse at the unusually aggressive, hyperlocal legal strategy the Trump campaign is activating as voting begins. Through threatening letters, lawsuits, viral videos and presidential misinformation, the campaign and its GOP allies are going to new lengths to contest election procedures county-by-county across battleground states.
That means piling new pressure on the often low-profile election officials on the frontline of the vote count, escalating micro-disputes over voting rules and seeking out trouble in their backyards.
The local approach already is producing a blizzard of voting-related complaints. Trump and his allies have then seized on the disputes, distorted them and used them to sow broad doubts of fairness and accuracy.
“It’s clearly based on an overall strategy to disrupt the election as much as possible,” said Barry Richard, who represented President George W. Bush’s campaign in the 2000 Florida recount. “You’re really seeing a broad-based, generalized strategy to suppress the vote by the Republican Party."
Trump's campaign says it's simply trying to ensure a fair election. It says the explosion of disputes is a result of Democrats' efforts to change the way America votes during the coronavirus pandemic, largely by expanding access to mail-in voting. More than 200 lawsuits have been filed over voting procedures in the...