How much time do you spend researching your local candidates for Justice of the Peace? I follow politics closely and try to learn about the people on the ballot. But do I pay attention to JP races? Nope, can’t say that I do. Does anybody?
Well, the Vermont Republican Party is giving us a reason to care. One of the items on its website concerns running for the resolutely obscure office.
Justices of the Peace are best known for officiating at weddings. But in Vermont they also play a significant role in overseeing local elections. And that’s what the Republicans are interested in. They want election truthers to run for JP so they can get in there and raise hell.
Well, that’s not what they’re saying out loud. But it’s clearly what they mean. Here’s the dog whistle:
JPs, along with other town officials, make up the board of civil authority whose role it is to purge the town’s voter list of people who are no longer eligible voter due to death or a change of residency. With today’s voter checklist being used by our current Secretary of State in ways that have never been done before in the history of our state, it is more important than ever for Republican (sic) to be a part of the process by running candidates for Justice of the Peace.
Ignore the typo there. You get used to that if you read enough VTGOP bumpf.
“Purge the town’s voter list.” “checklist being used… in ways that have never been done before.” Yup, the dogs are howling.
The message: Staunch election truthers must step forward to thwart the evil intentions of [checks notes] Jim Condos. I mean, his name kind of rhymes with “Soros,” and what more proof do you need?
BCAs play a variety of roles in local elections. They can also issue “guidance” on how to conduct an upcoming election, and a BCA’s quorum must be available whenever polls are open to oversee “the transaction of business relating to the conduct of the election and the qualification and registration of voters at this polling place.”
So yeah, potential for mayhem. What if a truther-dominated BCA hung around a polling place like starving vultures, looking for boogeymen and disqualifying voters as it sees fit? What if a single truther bigfooted around the room making everyone uncomfortable, if not afraid?
What if Bigfoot is open-carrying an AR-15? Like that?
Boards of Civil Authority include a lot of folks: Select board members, city councilors, elected mayors and other town/city officials in addition to all the JPs, who number between five and 15 per community. This could become a serious impediment to voting rights in a town if truthers formed a majority of a BCA.
And what if a truther-dominated BCA were to confiscate voting machines and try to conduct an “investigation” of the kind that wasted so much time and treasure in Arizona and elsewhere?
Even if they can’t get control, one or two QAnon types on a BCA could make the voting process unpleasant for everybody. One of the goals of these people is to make the public square so disagreeable that others are driven out.
The VTGOP’s notice is actually out of date. JP nominees were chosen in the August 9 primary, so it’s too late for someone to step forward now. But hundreds of people will be elected to two-year terms in November. The voters won’t know who they are.
It’s a clever move for the VTGOP, which likely means they got the idea from somewhere else. This is the same strategy Cro-Magnon conservatives are using to win school board and select board seats, as we have seen previously
If the Democrats are equally smart and have the capacity, they should be doing research on JP candidates and outing the truthers in their ranks. Every town committee should know who’s running locally. That information can be collected and disseminated so there’s a chance the voters will know what’s what.
It’s a shame this level of vigilance is needed. But it is. We can’t let these people creep in through the back door.