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How The Trump Campaign And Supporters Are Trying To Affect State Ballot Counting


As we await results in this nail-biter of an election, as poll workers in key states keep counting ballots, they are doing so amid a crush of lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign. Joining us now to explain how the count is going and the strain on election officials as the count keeps going is Tammy Patrick. She's a senior adviser to the independent, non-partisan Democracy Fund. She was previously an elections officer in Maricopa County, Ariz.

Hi there. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

TAMMY PATRICK: Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.

KELLY: Let me address, so that we can move on, the position of the man whose campaign is filing these lawsuits. The president has been tweeting things like stop the fraud. Twitter flagged that tweet as possibly misleading and several others of the president's. Is there any reason to believe fraud is being committed in the states still counting?

PATRICK: Absolutely not. Part of what's so critical for the listeners to understand is that the dedicated election officials and volunteer temporary workers that are in the processing of the ballots, that are in tabulating the ballots have been doing so without regard to what gets tweeted and with what is going on outside of their buildings. They're just trying to make sure that every ballot that was cast - because there are no new ballots being cast - that every ballot that was cast on Election Day by the close of the polls is, in fact, being counted, as is that voter's right.

KELLY: Some of the litigation - Michigan, for example - has centered on a claim from the Trump campaign that it wasn't getting enough access for its poll challengers at counting sites. I will note that a Michigan judge threw that out, ruled against the Trump campaign on that. But describe how it is supposed to work.

PATRICK: All across this country, every state has different policies and protocols in place to make sure that they have a transparent elections process, whether that has to do with who can be an observer or a watcher in a polling place, as well as the other processes that take place at the tabulation center and in the offices. And statutes really lay out who can be present as a sanctioned observer. There isn't...

KELLY: And do they get really specific, like, you must be this number of feet away or that type thing?

PATRICK: They can. They absolutely can. In some cases it'll say, you know, no closer than six feet to the tabulation equipment. You can't touch the ballots. You can't speak to certain workers. So it can be very, very prescriptive but making sure that there's still unimpeded access to see what's going on but not to stop it, not to slow it down, not to impede it in any way.

And so not only do we have those types of in-person sanctioned observers, but we also have a growing ability for the general public anywhere in the world to watch it online. So I'm a former election official from Arizona, and we had tabulation that was being broadcast on the Internet 24/7 from the time the very first ballot was being counted until the final canvass of the election. So right now, you can log on and watch the ballots being counted in Maricopa County. And in this moment, you can also watch in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, in other places.

KELLY: That's the - I've been glued to the one in Philadelphia. I'm going to have to add Maricopa County to my list. Briefly before I let you go, since you are a former election official in Maricopa County, Ariz., what do you make of what's going on there, from armed protests to these questions about the last votes being counted?

PATRICK: It saddens me that my former colleagues are, you know, are in that building and trying to complete the count and having to, you know, hear sometimes the things that are going on outside of the building because it can be intimidating. It can be distracting, quite frankly. But what's important to know is that everyone has the ability and their right under law to be in that parking lot and to make their voices heard. But they don't have the right, again, to impede the process, to stop the process from happening. And so it's really critical that in this moment, we don't lose sight of all of the various rights that sometimes can almost be at odds with one another.

KELLY: Tammy...

PATRICK: But we just need to make sure that everyone has a safe and healthy place to work to make sure that all of the ballots get counted.

KELLY: Tammy Patrick, thank you.

PATRICK: Thank you.

KELLY: She's senior adviser at the Democracy Fund. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.