Republican political operative Ali Alexander, who previously went by the name Ali Akbar, is floating the possibility of revamping a 2018 effort to discredit mail-in and absentee voting ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
According to a 2018 Politico report, the night before the 2016 election, a PAC advised by Alexander received a $60,000 donation from hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, the pro-Trump billionaire. Alexander has associated with far-right figures including Unite the Right white supremacist attendee Matt Colligan, and made a habit of noting when members of the media he criticizes are Jewish, according to The Observer.
In a Periscope broadcast uploaded Monday—viewed 51,000 times as of Friday morning—Alexander claimed he planned to revamp a November 2018 effort called “Stop the Steal” and create a digital text-messaging database that would dispatch supporters of President Donald Trump to places where ballots are being counted as well as the offices of state election officials around the country if their “physical presence is needed.” Alexander emphasized that his intention is that the protests would be peaceful and suggested that anyone who attends such protests with intentions of being violent would not be considered part of his cause.
“In the next coming days, we’re going to build the infrastructure to stop the steal,” Alexander said. “What we are going to do is we’re going to bypass all of social media. In the coming days, we will launch an effort concentrating on the swing states, and we will map out where the votes are being counted and the secretary of states. We will map all of this out for everyone publicly and we will collect cell phone numbers so that way if you are within 100 mile radius of a bad secretary of state or someone who’s counting votes after the deadline or if there’s a federal court hearing, we will alert you of where to go. We’re going to bypass all of Twitter, all of Facebook, all of Instagram, OK? We’re going to bypass it all.”
“We will camp out if we need to,” Alexander added. ”We will have tents. We will have water. We will have electrolytes. We will have vitamin D, C, and A. We will have zinc. We will have sandwiches. We will have everything so that patriots can oversee the supposed people in our republic who are tasked with counting our votes, not making it. Counting our votes, not making new votes.”
Right Wing Watch attempted to reach Alexander by text message and Twitter direct message for comment on this story and in hopes Alexander would produce proof that his claimed database was being built. (Alexander has a history of making dubious claims.) We did not receive a response prior to publication.
Right Wing Watch reported in 2018 about an effort orchestrated against a ballot recount in the Florida race for U.S. Senate between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Bill Nelson by associates of GOP operative and self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone. In a burst of protests reminiscent of the chaos during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, pro-Trump activists from around the country descended into Florida to protest and spread disinformation alleging that recount procedures were part of a Democratic plot to commit voter fraud. That election ultimately triggered two recounts and a wave of legal battles; Scott narrowly defeated Nelson by a fraction of a percent. In 2018, Alexander said he was recruiting people experiencing homelessness and followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory to fill spots at protests.
In this week’s broadcast, Alexander claimed that the election is being “raped and raided” by Democrats, and accused Republican leaders and pro-Trump voices of sitting idle.
“I’m watching a bunch of grifters, MAGA grifters, pretend like they’re going to stop the steal. Are they going to stop the steal?” Alexander said. “What are these grifters doing online, tweeting, to stop the steal? What have they done in the past? Not a damn thing.”
Alexander said his announcements were spurred by comments Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made to Axios about his platform’s policies to deter political candidates from declaring a premature election victory. Zuckerberg said that Americans may not know who the next president will be on election night, a likely scenario due to expected increases in mail-in and absentee voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Facebook would try to moderate against the organizing of civil unrest on its platform.
“One of the things that I think we and other media need to start doing is preparing the American people that there’s nothing illegitimate about this election taking additional days, or even weeks to make sure that all of the votes are counted,” Zuckerberg told Axios. “In fact, that might be important to make sure that this is a legitimate and fair election.”
The new Facebook policy statement includes the following measure: “If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, we’ll add a label to their posts directing people to the official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.” It also states that Facebook will label content “that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.”