Staff file photo by Olivia Ross / Sabrena Smedley looks at the numbers after the May 3 primary election with consultants Jay Wilson and Tom Ingram.

Hamilton County's GOP mayoral primary was rightly certified last month by the Hamilton County Election Commission and later — rightly again — by the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee, despite the two losing candidates contesting the election because of "crossover" voting by Democrats.

The same saga may soon be underway in Georgia where Donald Trump is trying to cast doubt on the Georgia primary elections, railing last week against Democrats crossing over in open-primary states. Trump, needing some excuse for the losses of candidates he pushed to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, blasted out, "Something stinks in Georgia." In the Peach State, as in Tennessee, crossover voting is legal and — judging from an analysis of Hamilton County voting by the Chattanooga Times Free Press — not uncommon.

If reporting by Politico is any indication, we can expect more of the same in elections to come.

Politico obtained tapes revealing a wide-ranging GOP plan to contest elections. The videos of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists offer a strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts, according to Politico.

The strategy includes installing party-trained recruits as regular poll workers and putting them "in direct contact with party attorneys to facilitate challenges in swing states and areas perceived to be shifting from red to purple," Politico's Heidi Przybyla writes.

Please note, the party plans to recruit and train "poll workers" — not poll watchers, a more normal practice. But there's more.

As outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, Matthew Seifried, the plan also calls for establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.

"Being a poll worker, you just have so many more rights and things you can do to stop something than [as] a poll challenger," said Seifried, the RNC's Michigan election integrity director, in one videoed meeting with GOP activists in Wayne County last Nov. 6 — one of a series of GOP recorded meetings between the summer of 2021 and May of this year obtained by POLITICO.

Backing up those front-line workers, "it's going to be an army," Seifried promised in another meeting, an Oct. 5 training session. "We're going to have more lawyers than we've ever recruited, because let's be honest, that's where it's going to be fought, right?"

Politico doesn't mention Tennessee, and neither we nor anyone else is saying the challenges filed here last month were part and parcel to this strategy.

For one thing the challenges here were completely among Republicans. The only mention of Democrats was in that some Democrats — as the law says they may — requested Republican ballots and voted in the Republican primary rather than the Democratic primary where very few races fielded Democrats and even fewer fielded competitive Democratic contests.

But the legal document contesting Hamilton County GOP mayoral nominee Weston Wamp's win over second-place finisher Sabrena Smedley and third-placer Matt Hullander clearly makes a case that there is a widening chasm between local establishment Republicans and the far-right Republicans who would fan Trump-like conspiracy theories.

Smedley's local filing, alleging "a highly organized campaign by the Democratic Left to adulterate the votes of bona fide Republicans," is joined by Hullander and unsuccessful Hamilton County School Board District 6 candidate Cindy Fain. It reads in places like an over-the-top partisan screed.

It even takes the local Republican Party Chair Arch Trimble to task for saying in a 2020 local meeting, "We have to look at broadening our base We've spent the last four years allowing ourselves to be pushed too far to the right, and quite frankly I don't think anyone in this room can agree that has done a lot for our party. As far as if this election [referring to the President election] was stolen or not, I don't know and I don't have access to that data, nor do I care to.' "

The election filing goes on: "Broadening the base without insuring [sic] only bona fide Republicans vote in a Republican Party, will continue to render the primaries a mockery, and since when is standing against BLM, Riots, Defund the Police, Prosecute the Police, abortion, liberal judges, illegal immigration and illegitimate crossover voting 'too far right?'"

The essence of the filing is that only Republicans should have been allowed to vote in the Republican primary. And that voting should have been policed by poll workers.

"In fact there was absolutely no gate keeping," according to the filing. "Hamilton County Election Officials also confirmed that although poll workers received training on what to do if there was a challenge to a voter, they received no training on how to challenge and were not given access, as noted, to the voting history records of voters."

It was disconcerting when Smedley, et al, announced they would contest the election.

Now these unrelated tapes, unearthed and reported by Politico, are disconcerting again, cementing what we and other political watchers have feared since 2020: Every election going forward — from school board to mayor to president — will be an endless stream of false or at best questionable assertions of fraud.

Imagine: Political parties training poll workers to challenge any voter they deem to look suspiciously Republican, Democratic or othercratic.