Who Watches The Poll Watchers | Crooked Media
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November 01, 2022
What A Day
Who Watches The Poll Watchers

In This Episode

  • As Democrats make their final push on the campaign trail ahead of Election Day, election deniers are making their presence known in person. In Florida, two former members of the Proud Boys were hired as poll workers in Miami-Dade County – a third was dismissed because he’s facing charges for his involvement in the Jan. 6th riot.
  • School board elections have a huge impact on local communities, but rarely get the same coverage as other, higher-profile races. Maria Salamanca, a progressive school board candidate for Orange County Public Schools in Florida, tells us why she’s running.
  • And in headlines: Migos rapper Takeoff was fatally shot in Houston, Benjamin Netanyahu held an early lead in Israel’s latest general election, and Senator Lindsay Graham must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, November 2nd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day reminding you that the Heidi Klum worm is not real and it cannot hurt you people. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, obviously we all wish we had never seen one of the world’s most successful models ever dressed as a giant, very realistic worm. But we have now, and all we can do at this point is move forward and never speak of it again.


Juanita Tolliver: I refuse to be distracted by Worm Klum.


Priyanka Aribindi: Already deleted from my brain. [music break] On today’s show, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be heading for a political comeback. Plus, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke his silence after losing his bid for reelection. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, the countdown to Election Day is on. And all I can say is that I am so glad that nearly 22 million people have already cast their votes because these voter intimidation tactics are sadly ramping up. As we shared last week, voters have been filing reports with the Arizona secretary of state about people wearing military fatigues, some of whom were armed, recording them as they drop their ballots at drop boxes. Well, this week it’s been reported that proud boys are serving as poll workers in Florida. I truly hate that this is our reality right now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, 1,000%. That is terrifying. How did that happen? 


Juanita Tolliver: So get this. The Miami Herald reported that two members of the right wing extremist group, The Proud Boys, somehow, someway managed to become qualified poll workers in Miami-Dade County, and they’ll will be interacting with voters on Election Day. There was a third proud boy, Gabriel Garcia, who was also on the poll watcher Election Day schedule up until three weeks ago. That is until after county election supervisor Christina White learned that he was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th. Garcia is scheduled to stand trial on two felony counts and four misdemeanors for his role in the insurrection. He was even recorded looking for House Speaker Pelosi and saying, quote, “Nancy, come out and play.” I guess no one ever noticed or questioned the ankle monitor he was reportedly wearing every day either. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I’m sorry, Insurrectionist. At your voting booth? No, thank you. No, thank you. 


Juanita Tolliver: As for the other two proud boy poll watchers, one of whom was also at the Capitol on January 6th, but allegedly did not enter the building. There are reasonable questions about how in the world two people who are members of a right wing extremist group that largely supported Trump’s failed attempted coup fit the requirement for being impartial observers. And their presence at the polls is a reminder that election deniers are not only on the ballot, they’re also at polling places. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s very scary. And it means it’s even more important that you know all of your rights just in case a poll worker tries to turn you away or you experience any issues at your polling place stuff that’s out of the ordinary. If you visit VoteSaveAmerica.com, we have a ton of resources for you. They will spell out exactly what you can expect at a polling place. What is absolutely not okay what you need–


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –To call the authorities about right away. Just important things to know because there are people out there who would rather that you did not vote. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And please do not let them have their way. But Juanita, we are in the final stretch before Election Day. So can you tell us a little bit more about what’s happening on the campaign trail? 


Juanita Tolliver: All right. So elsewhere in Florida, President Biden was on the trail Tuesday in Broward County, campaigning for Democratic Senate nominee Representative Val Demings and Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor. And the president ran down the list of all of the harmful things that Republicans want to do if they take control of Congress. He warned the crowd, they’re coming for Social Security and Medicare. The $35 a month cap on insulin for Medicare, gone. The savings on health care premiums for millions of Americans, gone. He made great points that are definitely going to resonate with older voters. And we can expect to hear more of that message from the president this week when he visits New Mexico, California and Pennsylvania, where he’ll reunite with former President Obama, who, frankly, has been getting a lot of love on the trail. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, he has.


Juanita Tolliver: I heard one woman attending the Detroit rally scream that he was, quote, “finer than a mug” like a true auntie. You know, that resonated. And the shout out to Obama was warranted because not only is he still fine, but because he’s getting these massive crowds fired up. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: Here’s a clip of Obama stumping for Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin last week. 


[clip of Barack Obama speaking to a crowd] Some of you here are on Social Security? [shouts and cheers] Some of your parents are on Social Security? [cheers] Some of your grandparents are on Social Security? You know why they have Social Security? Because they worked for it. [applause] They worked hard jobs for it. [applause] They have chapped hands for it. [applause] They have long hours and sore backs and bad knees to get that Social Security. And if Ron Johnson does not understand that. If he understands giving tax breaks for private planes more than he understands making sure that seniors who’ve worked all their lives are able to retire with dignity and respect. He’s not the person who’s thinking about you and knows you and sees you. And he should not be your senator from Wisconsin. 


Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you this sounded like a preacher down in Baptist churches like I grew up in. He’s just so good at this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. Like I’ve heard that clip multiple times and every single time. Chills. It is so like, there’s nothing that will get you fired up quite like that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Fired up. Ready to go. You remember the phrase? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. [laughter] Yup.


Juanita Tolliver: And the fact remains that former President Obama is still the most popular Democrat in the nation, and he’s looking to appeal to a wide swath of voters on the trail, including independent voters who are still somehow undecided less than a week away from the election. I don’t know who you are, but Obama’s coming for you. [laugh] And as Biden and Obama rekindle their bromance, their GOTV push in Pennsylvania couldn’t be more critical, as Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is in a tight Senate race with Mehmet Oz. That’s polling just beyond the margin of error, with Fetterman up by five points. And Pennsylvania will definitely shape up to be a wild ride, as some Republican voters are expected to split their ticket between Oz and Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Because they just can’t stand to vote for Trump acolyte and election denier Doug Mastriano. And frankly, at this point, it all comes down to who shows up and Democrats are working overtime to get out the vote. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. And, you know, on the topic of the midterm elections, it is Wednesday, WAD squad And as you know, on Wednesdays leading up to the midterm elections here, we like to do a little segment called WAD the Vote. 


[theme music for WAD the vote] WAD the Vote. [laugh]


Juanita Tolliver: It’s shimmy time is what I call it, cause that’s exactly the vibe. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes it is. 


Juanita Tolliver: We love that song. Okay. Election Day is less than a week away, Priyanka. What are we diving into today? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Today, I wanted to spend a little more time digging into a role that doesn’t quite get the same airtime as some of these bigger nationwide or statewide candidates. And I am talking about your local school board. So typically, the only people who have been really aware of school boards and what they’re up to in the past have been teachers and, of course, some parents. But over the past few years, especially as school curriculum has become more politicized. School boards have started to get a lot more attention, to learn a little bit more about what the school board does, why they are so important, and not just for families with school age children and just how small some of the margins are in these races. I spoke with Maria Salamanca. She is a progressive school board candidate for Orange County public schools in Florida, which includes the city of Orlando. And she’s no stranger to politics. She worked on campaigns for prominent Democrats before she decided back in 2020 to return to the community where she grew up. I started by asking her why she’s running for this role. 


Maria Salamanca: During COVID, just keeped seeing a discussion in school districts. And it was around books, it was around material, critical race theory. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: And I saw these amazing teachers that made a massive difference in my life, as a low income, first generation immigrant kid, leaving the classrooms because the morale was so low. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: I mean, the magic that happens in the classroom of learning uh really is lost when you’re being told what you can teach, what you can do. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Maria Salamanca: It was really what brought me in to say, I know what’s going to matter long term, right? I’ve had these students get jobs, do find their passion. That’s just not aligning on what the adults are talking about. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. And I mean, Florida has, you know, arguably been at the epicenter of these, you know, right wing attacks on education that have, you know, spread into other GOP led states. There was the don’t say gay law that went into effect earlier this year that restricted discussions of LGBTQ+ identities and history in classrooms in a state led by Republicans. Can you explain, just like, why a progressive school board is still important and like why that is worth fighting for? And you know what can be accomplished there? 


Maria Salamanca: Yeah. I mean, look, our schools do so much more than just provide children with an education, right? As the pandemic has shown us, schools are often the places where families rely on to ensure their kids get adequate nutrition. There are the places where families get referrals to a lot of crucial services and even sometimes just like safety. Our schools serve our communities a lot, and it’s important to make sure that both the facilities, the programs, the funding and that is something that school boards do have a decent amount of discretion on, is going to things that make a difference and are focused on equity and evening out opportunity as much as you can, even though you can’t fight every law. You do have a certain amount of discretion that makes a big difference. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So just one district over from yours in Orange County’s third district, there is a right wing school board candidate, Alicia Farrant. She is pushing a list of harmful policies with the backing of Governor Ron DeSantis. She talks a lot about critical race theory. She calls LGBTQ+ centric books pornographic. She’s against mask mandates. Other candidates like her throughout Florida are leading in the polls. So I’m curious, what worries you about these people potentially coming into power and what is the scope of damage that they could do? Like, why is the alternative to you and the alternative to a progressive school board something we should be worried about? 


Maria Salamanca: Yeah, I mean, 100%. You know, these are folks that are very well organized and they’re winning. So 19 of the 30 candidates that DeSantis endorsed in the primaries won their race altogether. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: And six others are heading right now to the runoff in the general election. But the reality is, if you look at this district, which is the same district that Alicia would potentially represent, you know, she is focused on banning all kinds of books in K through five and middle school. But when you look at just like reading proficiency for this district, specifically third to fifth graders as of 2021, only 53% of them were proficient in reading. Right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Maria Salamanca: And so you see all this fear mongering that kind of detracts from the real problem. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Maria Salamanca: And so the idea is like, our kids need to be learning and they– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: –Need to be focused on learning how to read before we start to restrict what they’re going to read. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Maria Salamanca: And so it’s kind of like just distraction of focusing on like, here, look over here. This is the main issue. And if you do have this happen across the country, then you’re going to have people focusing on issues that are not going to make or break the future of, like our students, uh their wellbeing, their ability to find jobs, to get into–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: –College, their careers. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Obviously, this is something that parents are concerned about. You know, what their kids are learning in school, how they’re being treated, facilities, all of it. But, you know, for people without kids or without kids that are in school, school board races may not have been a priority in the past, might not be a priority for them at all. So how do you talk to voters in those situations? Like why should everybody care about school board elections in their communities? 


Maria Salamanca: I think one of the things that we can all understand is if our students are not leaving the classrooms prepared with basic reading proficiency and math proficiency, they’re falling behind on the workforce. That means that I mean, there is a decent number of opening in jobs today that are not being filled because of skills gaps. And so we need kind of the next generation to, one, have kind of the morale boost that they are entrepreneurs, that they can be creative, uh that they enjoy learning, that they enjoy being challenged and tackling new challenges, rather than them feeling kind of unprepared and going out and talking about some of these like fear mongering things that are not going to get them the job are not going to help them find their passion. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I’m just curious now what you’re you’re up against and make the case that you’re making to voters that you encounter. Is it really just as simple as being like, I care about students being proficient in these skills that they should be learning in school, and that’s not what the other side is talking about. Or are am I missing something? Is it really that simple? 


Maria Salamanca: Sometimes it really is. I mean. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 


Maria Salamanca: The messaging broadly is let’s take culture wars and politics out of the classrooms again. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: Like if you talk to a teacher and I’ve talked to hundreds of them now about like, you know, the LGBTQ books, or are you talking about critical race theory? They’re like, no, I’m I’m getting my students to learn to love learning. That’s their focus. So it’s like the discourse is kind of adults fighting adults on partisan issues and it’s– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Maria Salamanca: –Not what’s going on. And I think that’s a big threat to something that’s core to our country, which is education. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Maria Salamanca, a progressive school board candidate for Orange County public schools in Florida. We’ll link to her campaign in our shownotes, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The rapper Takeoff, who was part of the platinum selling group Migos, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning in Houston. Police said that the shooting broke out outside a bowling alley following an argument between people who were leaving a private party. Two other people were hurt. Takeoff, whose real name is Kirshnik Khari Ball was pronounced dead at the scene. He was just 28 years old. His fans and peers mourned his passing yesterday with the rapper Ja Rule tweeting, quote, “RIP Takeoff. This shit has to stop. Sending love to friends and family.” 


Juanita Tolliver: As Haiti continues to grapple with multiple crises, the Biden administration is considering whether to temporarily hold migrants from the island nation in a third country or even at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That’s according to a recent report from NBC News. Tens of thousands of Haitians have already fled Haiti in the last month and a half to escape rampant gang violence, as well as a worsening cholera outbreak and a hunger crisis. The report indicates that the administration is expecting a mass exodus from Haiti by people trying to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. by boat. If and when the fuel blockade by armed gangs and so I just need to get this straight. After Haitian asylum seekers were whipped by U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback, treated inhumanely at the border by Mexican officials, now the U.S. administration is considering sending them to the same place where this country has tortured people for years and all while white skinned Ukrainian asylum seekers are ushered in without being brutalized. I promise this is not the move and I hope that the White House takes this off the table for any future consideration. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, like who the fuck suggested this? Like is Steven Miller still working at the White House. I’m a little confused as to how this even showed up on the table. I’m sorry it is such a bad idea. Please–


Juanita Tolliver: Don’t apologize. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Quit it right now. 


Juanita Tolliver: Named it. Name it.


Priyanka Aribindi: Israel held another parliamentary election yesterday, its fifth in less than four years. And Benjamin Netanyahu, the former right wing prime minister who was ousted last year, is hoping to make a comeback. This is all happening while he’s currently on trial for corruption, he’s running against sitting Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who leads the current coalition alliance of leftists, centrists and others. As of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Netanyahu has a narrow lead in the polls, but there is a chance that no one will capture the majority. And if that’s the case, voters won’t head back to the polls until the spring. And Lapid will stay in power. What’s surprising is that experts were expecting low turnout, but voters showed up in the highest numbers in over 20 years. 


Juanita Tolliver: Although high turnout is a positive sign. But I just got to say, coming from a person who was in a country where we also have a former leader under investigation for corruption and all sorts of crimes, y’all don’t do this. You don’t want him back. A grand jury in Georgia could be treated to one of humanity’s worst sounds, senator Lindsey Graham’s voice. That’s after the Supreme Court said he must testify as part of an investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. The court rejected Graham’s request that would have kept him from testifying, which dissolved a temporary stay issued last week by none other than Justice Clarence Thomas. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the investigation, wants to grill Graham about calls he made to election officials in Georgia. Graham claims he made the calls as part of his job as senator and in some other less positive news out of the Supreme Court. It issued a temporary order yesterday blocking the release of the world’s most sought after paper, Trump’s tax returns, to the House Ways and Means Committee. The panel has been seeking those documents since, you guessed it, 2019. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Some racist right wing authoritarians still have the common decency to respect the will of the people. After losing Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro has signaled that he’ll cooperate with the peaceful transfer of power. We love to see it. Bolsonaro finally broke his silence yesterday in a short speech at the presidential palace, saying that he would, quote, “continue to fulfill all the commandments of our Constitution.” Bolsonaro didn’t explicitly admit defeat to leftist leader Lula da Silva, nor did he congratulate Lula for winning. CNN also reported yesterday that Bolsonaro just so happens to have travel plans around the time of Lula’s inauguration on New Year’s Day. So Brazil’s current vice president will pass the baton. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s giving peak petty. [laugh] 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s petty, but I’d so much rather him do that and be like, whatever peace I’m out and go on his little vacation. Then like I won the election and I’m going to sic my supporters on the capital of this country and try to overthrow the government. I think a vacation sounds better than that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. And if you’re looking to escape from the stresses of modern life by curling up with a Collins English dictionary. Mmm. Okay. Choices were made. [laughing] Maybe reconsider, because the nearly 200 year old UK based publisher has named permacrisis as its word of the year for 2022. Collins defines permacrisis as an extended period of instability and insecurity, and said in a statement that the word quote “sums up quite succinctly just how truly awful 2022 has been for so many people.” Also featured on Collins Yearly List is a phrase that was on the tip of every op ed columnist’s tongue for about two weeks in September, quiet quitting. Along with, oh, wait for it, splooting. Which sounds gross. It really does sound gross, but it’s not. It’s when animals like squirrels, cats, and dogs lie face down on hard surfaces to cool off. I mean, Josephine and Zora do it all summer long. It’s quite cute. And just for Priyanka, I’m going to say it again. Splooting. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no, no. [laughter] I didn’t know this word existed until about 30 minutes ago. And it has–


Juanita Tolliver: They just made it up this year. 


Priyanka Aribindi:  –it has shot up the rings in my least favorite words. It’s disgusting. [laughter] And those are the headlines. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. And for Priyanka’s sake, make sure you sploot– 


Priyanka Aribindi: No! 


Juanita Tolliver: –and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If you’re into reading and not just dictionaries to try to stay upbeat like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And safe travels Jair Bolsonaro. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know where you’re headed. I some suggestions for you. I have some places I would like to go. 


Juanita Tolliver: She said go– 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think we’d travel together. I don’t really think we’d get along but like– 


Juanita Tolliver: Girl. All you got to say is go to hell. We know what you’re talking about, okay? [laughing] [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.