Under the guidance of Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, the “Election Integrity Network” has built what it calls “permanent election integrity infrastructure” in swing states staffed with people fully committed to election conspiracies. After recruiting thousands of election workers and poll watchers in the 2022 cycle, Election Integrity Network coalitions are now mobilizing far-right activists to advance restrictive voting policies in key states.
The “Election Integrity Network” project was founded in 2021 by Mitchell, the veteran lawyer who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including joining the infamous call when the president urged Georgia’s top election official to “find” 11,780 votes. It was originally housed at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), the $45 million MAGA institution led by former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
In states like Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, CPI’s Election Integrity Network has organized coalitions of election conspiracy theorists, drawing from national groups like Tea Party Patriots and Heritage Action, as well as a range of fringe state-based groups, like Audit the Vote PA and Stand Up Michigan, and with support from local, state, and national GOP officials and entities.
In the 2022 cycle, these coalitions recruited thousands of election conspiracy theorists to become election workers and poll watchers, challenged poll observer rules in states like North Carolina, and fed right-wing messaging campaigns to discredit elections in states like Arizona.
Election Integrity Network coalitions have remained active since the 2022 election, and are now focusing on state legislatures, Secretaries of State, and local election offices.
State activists involved in these coalitions are driving phone calls to state legislative offices, organizing state lobby days, generating op-eds, and mobilizing key Republican allies and influencers. Activists are also scrutinizing local election offices and blanketing them with records requests, leading to an atmosphere of hostility that drives dedicated election workers out of public service. Rarely, if ever, do these activists disclose that they are mobilizing as part of a national effort.
Nationally, the Election Integrity Network is also playing a key convening role, connecting state activists with groups like Foundation for Government Accountability, Honest Elections Project, ALEC Action, and Election Transparency Initiative. State activists are encouraged to connect with these national groups for model bill language, talking points and messaging, expert witnesses and testimony, and other outside support.
Although the political dynamics and legislative priorities differ in each state, Election Integrity Network coalitions are broadly focused on thwarting bipartisan efforts to advance ranked choice voting, and are supporting partisan efforts to limit mail-in voting and eliminate ballot drop boxes. In states like North Carolina and Florida, Election Integrity Network coalitions are also advocating for changes to election laws that would empower conspiracy-minded activists to challenge voter registrations, and that would make it easier to harass election officials and confront voters at the polls.
These state coalitions are also pressuring lawmakers and election officials to cut ties with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a bipartisan data-sharing consortium for performing cross-state voter registration checks that has become a target for right-wing conspiracy theories. CPI itself hosted a private event for Secretaries of State in June of 2022 to promote ERIC conspiracies.
In addition to forming state-based coalitions of election conspiracy theorists, CPI has also launched the "State Freedom Caucus Network" to replicate the far-right Congressional House Freedom Caucus in state legislatures around the country. Legislators who are members of these CPI-supported “state freedom caucuses” are key allies in efforts to undermine the freedom to vote. For example, the Arizona Freedom Caucus promoted false claims of voter fraud following the 2022 midterm elections, and touted a ranked choice voting ban in the state. Likewise, Election Integrity Network activists and Georgia Freedom Caucus members claim to have played a key role in thwarting ranked choice voting in that state.
In 2021, as CPI launched the “Election Integrity Network,” it received a $1 million grant from a foundation controlled by billionaire Dick Uihlein, who has been one of the key funders of election denial. The Election Integrity Network is now being partially folded-in to the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, which in 2021 received a $125,000 grant from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation—a key funder of groups that have stoked unfounded fears about voter fraud—to support “the Virginia Fair Elections project.” That project served as the model that CPI sought to replicate in other states.