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‘We Have The Army’: Pennsylvania Grassroots Eager For Direction As RNC Trains Poll Watchers

Attendees at RNC's "Protect the Vote" stop in Bucks County, PA
Image CreditBrianna Lyman

‘We’ve got a big army of door knockers, poll workers, committee people. We’d like to hear what the Trump campaign is going to be doing,’ said Andy Meehan.


NEWTOWN, Penn. — The sound of 70s and 80s classic rock hits floating down the hallway toward the elevator bank helped guide me into a room filled with American flags and Trump 2024 signage. Within an hour, that same room would be oozing with palpable enthusiasm for former President Donald Trump, in the second stop along the Republican National Committee’s “Protect The Vote” tour.

Having arrived a bit early, I made my way over to a man who introduced himself as Dwayne McDavitt, president of the Pennsylvania Bikers for Trump chapter. What was a well-oiled biker doing at the RNC’s training for poll observers?

“I do what I can do,” McDavitt told me, explaining that he helps “organize bike rides, anything” to help Trump and other Republicans win. This type of eagerness to get involved pulsated through the room as it quickly filled with supporters.

A Spirited Stop on the Tour

Dozens of enthusiastic Pennsylvanians came out to Newtown on Tuesday to hear RNC Chairman Michael Whatley, Co-Chair Lara Trump, and others speak about poll watching. It’s part of the RNC’s initiative to “Protect the Vote.”

One of those men, Andy Meehan, is the founder of RightForBucks, a grassroots organization focused on turning out Bucks County voters. Meehan explained that his group is “actually doing a lot of the efforts on our own” to turn voters out but that he was “looking for more direction from the [Trump] campaign.”

RightForBucks founder Andy Meehan
Andy Meehan
Image CreditBrianna Lyman

“I wanted to hear from the leaders of the campaign because there hasn’t been any activity from the campaign that I know of yet in Bucks County,” Meehan said. “We’ve got a big army of door knockers, poll workers, committee people. We’d like to hear what the Trump campaign is going to be doing, you know, as far as outreach to unregistered voters or the mail-in ballot people, all these kinds of things they have resources to drive that we don’t. But we have all the people, we have the army.”

Meehan wasn’t the only one expressing a desire for more direction from national leadership.

Keith Hoffman is a Bucks County committeeman who also works with WinAgain, a Pennsylvania-based PAC focusing on increasing Republicans’ use of mail-in ballots. Hoffman explained he is personally involved in campaigning and door-knocking for Republicans.

“Just last week, we sent out another 1,000-2,000 letters to other mail-in voters in Pennsylvania and then this week and next week we will be knocking on their doors to get them to sign up,” Hoffman said, echoing the need to focus on get-out-the-vote efforts.

But like Meehan, Hoffman added he had not seen much involvement from the RNC up until this point.

Joe Curcio, also a fellow Bucks County committeeman, told me that Republicans “have the numbers” to win back the state — it’s just a matter of getting people to actually cast a ballot.

“It’s our job to take it upon ourselves to go out and help” turnout Republicans, Curcio said.

Joe Curcio
Joe Curcio
Image CreditBrianna Lyman

“Maybe they can’t make it on Election Day, truck drivers for instance, they’re with us, but if you’re not in the state on Election Day, how will you vote?” Curcio said.

Curcio also emphasized the need for personal contact with voters.

“I would say mail-in ballots and personal contact, there are a lot of people that want to be heard from, and unless someone goes out and talks to them, they might not get out on Election Day,” Curcio said.

Rusty Stadler is a former independent voter who signed up through the RNC last month to be a poll watcher.

“I’m hoping to see how I can contribute to make sure elections are proper,” Stadler told me, at times having to speak up so that his voice wouldn’t be drowned out by the dozens of lively supporters huddled together in the room. “If the election is proper, Trump would have to win. And so I just want to see to it, anyway that I can be involved in this process.”

Stadler explained he has already taken the RNC’s Zoom training for poll watching — which meant he also had to formally register as a Republican.

The RNC previously offered poll watcher training via Zoom during the 2022 midterms. Noah Boyd, an event-goer who also happens to be running for state assembly, told me that he took the RNC’s training via Zoom in 2022 but was never actually deployed during the election.

Candidate for PA State Rep. Noah Boyd
Noah Boyd
Image CreditBrianna Lyman

“A few years ago in 2022 I went through RNC training for poll watching, the RNC of course never reached out to me about it so I never actually used it. More recently in 2023 I was able to observe the polls while working with RightForBucks,” Boyd said. The RNC told The Federalist that this cycle, their poll-watching efforts are backed by more resources, staff, and volunteers. It’s also conducting “weekly virtual trainings for volunteers,” an RNC representative said.

“I think in 2022 the RNC was ineffective, not good at following up,” Boyd said, adding the RNC’s Protect the Vote tour is also the first time he’s seen the RNC on the ground for this election cycle.

I later asked Whatley how the RNC would translate their recruitment efforts to deployment efforts, noting concerns such as Boyd’s.

“Yeah so that is really, truly, part of what is being talked about upstairs,” Whatley said. “We have staff that have already been deployed to Pennsylvania, both on the political side as well as on our election integrity teams, and we’re gonna make sure we’re working with the state party and with the county parties to make sure that we’re getting people properly put into different shifts.”

‘Maximum Efficiency’: Attendees Satisfied With Poll Training

After Whatley and Trump gave their speeches, the media were ushered outside for a brief press conference and were not permitted to watch the training.

Boyd, in a follow-up interview via phone after the training, said the session did include mention from the RNC that they would be organizing and following up with individuals who were at the training session.

The session, according to Boyd, involved three individuals who explained the process of poll watching.

“I’ve done similar training in the past so none of the information was too surprising to me but I’m very glad they were doing that and that they would be getting people involved because this is exactly what we need to be focusing on with election integrity,” Boyd said. “We need to have eyes and hands involved in every part of the election process.”

Some of the topics discussed during the training were duties of a poll watcher and how to report any issues to the RNC on Election Day, Boyd said. The RNC confirmed to The Federalist that any issues on Election Day can be “reported immediately to our statewide hotline” where a “rapid response” would be provided.

Hoffman, who has been a poll watcher in the past, emphasized those findings in a follow-up phone interview as well.

“I’ve been lucky at my polls, we have some really good patriots at the polls, we haven’t had anything go down and we all get along,” Hoffman said, “So I wasn’t aware of everything that I should be watching out for so it was definitely [useful training] for November so that when I go there at 6:00 a.m., I can verify these things. Before, I was never verifying, I was just assuming they were done correctly because I didn’t know any better. So now I know.”

Bucks County Committeeman Keith Hoffman
Keith Hoffman
Image CreditBrianna Lyman

Curcio praised the session as “very informative.”

“[The RNC] did a very efficient job with the way they went over it,” Curcio said. “A lot of times if you go to a seminar or a class there’s a lot of dilly-dallying, but this was maximum efficiency in my opinion.”

“I happen to work the polls every year so I’m certified and I thought this session was still very useful to me,” Curcio said. Curcio also said he’s hopeful that with the new RNC leadership, some issues that plagued the 2020 election inside the polling centers wouldn’t happen again.

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