Rockland County GOP Chairman Lawrence Garvey, one of the first county chairmen in New York State to formally endorse President-elect Donald Trump this spring, was amongst a coterie of GOP attorneys dispatched to Wisconsin and Michigan to oversee recount efforts demanded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Garvey answered several questions about the trip in a Q&A with the Rockland County Times.
What were your responsibilities during the trip to Wisconsin and Michigan?
In Wisconsin, there were nine in our group. We were led by Assistant Trump Campaign General Counsel and Former Congressman John Sweeney. We were sort of like a rapid response team that went to certain larger or problematic counties to make sure that the rules were followed and more importantly, that the recount moved along.
We were the only ones from the Trump Campaign but were assisted by local Republican volunteers and representatives from the Wisconsin State GOP. The concern in Wisconsin was not that Trump would lose a recount, but that it would not be finished in time and therefore Wisconsin could not certify the results in time for the Electoral College and Trump would not get Wisconsin’s electoral votes. I think that was the Stein/Clinton plan all along: To cause enough chaos in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to throw the electoral college vote into question, and forcing the House of Representative to choose the president.
Incidentally, while the Stein Campaign took the lead on forcing the re-count, they were clearly coordinating with the Clinton Campaign, including joint meetings before the count started each morning and constant interaction during the counting process. I will say that the people in Wisconsin responsible for the recount were professional and kind. We were treated respectfully. All the county workers that were getting crazy amounts of overtime, courtesy of Ms. Stein, were thrilled, especially around the holidays. Trump, making America great!
During the recount what kind of tactics specifically did you have to keep an eye on?
In Wisconsin it was mostly about making sure they moved things along and completed in time. Michigan was a different story. Michigan was a hand count of paper ballots. The ballots boxes were delivered to the counting table with a seal stating the number of ballots contained inside.
The counters had three chances to count the paper ballots. If, after three attempts, the hand count didn’t match the count on the seal, then that box could not be recounted and the original vote tally stood. They had a lot of trouble matching the counts and many ballot boxes couldn’t be recounted. So our job was to help the Trump observers at the counting table understand the rules, enforce the three count maximum and object when the counters didn’t do things correctly. By the time we got to Michigan (we were in Detroit) the Trump Campaign and the RNC had a large number of attorneys there.
Were you able to get a sense why a D-leaning state like Wisconsin went Republican for the first time in over a generation?
Not in Michigan because we were only in Detroit where Clinton won big. In Wisconsin, it was like in a lot of places, people were enthusiastic and excited and that sentiment transferred into votes for Trump. The Clinton Campaign misread them and took them for granted.
Swing state Pennsylvania is one of 15 states to use electronic voting with no paper ballots. Do you think a law should be passed forcing states to include some form of a paper ballot in their vote process as they do in NY?
I definitely think that there should be paper ballots. Based on the absolute chaos that I saw in Detroit, at least you have something to fall back on. I’m not saying that it was intentionally altered, but the incompetence was unbelievable.