Voter intimidation and poll monitors: More ways for Trump to steal election

election poll watchers voter intimidation

Voter intimidation and poll monitors are two more ways Trump plans to steal the 2020 election.

During the crapfest disguised as a presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden earlier this week, Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would pledge not to “declare victory until the election has been independently certified.”

“I’m urging supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said, on a night where he continued his attacks on mail-in ballots. “If it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

An unsurprising answer when you remember that invalidating mail-in ballots and recycling lies about how he’ll only lose if the election is rigged against him are essential parts of Trump’s reelection strategy — in addition to his “contingency plan” to ignore the Electoral College outcome if he loses by hand-selecting pro-Trump electors in GOP-controlled states, and his already announced intention to use law enforcement to monitor polls.

I guess his plan to postpone or cancel the election didn’t work out.

Trump’s plan to “monitor” the polling locations to avoid a fraudulent outcome intimidate voters was the subject of an interview with Trump Pravda’s Sean Hannity when he asked Trump about his plans.

“My question to you then is, are you going to have poll watchers? Are you going to have an ability to monitor, to avoid fraud, and cross-check whether or not these are registered voters? Whether or not there has been identification to know that it’s a real vote from a real American?” Hannity asked.

“We’re going to have everything. We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys. And we’re going to have everybody and attorney generals [sic]. But it’s very hard. I mean, you have some of these states sending them out, like Nevada, where they don’t even have to check the signatures, so anybody can sign it. New Jersey just sent it out, where the governor, as I understand it, just signed an executive order, didn’t even go through the legislature to get it done. And nobody has ever heard of anything like this,” Trump replied.

During the debate, Trump attempted to validate his voter intimidation plan by mentioning an incident in Philadelphia where Trump campaign officials were allegedly denied access to a polling location. As we read in the New York Times, there’s more to the story than he revealed Tuesday night:

The group of Trump campaign officials came carrying cellphone cameras and a determination to help the president’s re-election efforts in Philadelphia. But they were asked to leave the city’s newly opened satellite election offices on Tuesday after being told local election laws did not permit them to monitor voters coming to request and complete absentee ballots.

On social media and right-wing news sites and in the presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Trump and his campaign quickly suggested nefarious intent in the actions of local election officials, with the president claiming during the debate that “bad things happen in Philadelphia” and urging his supporters everywhere to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”

The baseless descriptions of the voting process in Philadelphia were the latest broad-brush attempt by the Trump campaign to undermine confidence in this year’s election, a message delivered with an ominous edge at the debate when he advised an extremist group, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” in his remarks about the election.

The calls for his followers to monitor voting activity are clear. What’s less apparent is how the Trump campaign wants this to play out.

Trump may have already shown us how he wants it to play out may in the comments he made to Sean Hannity. What could be more intimidating than having armed law enforcement welcoming you to the polls?

For the evangelicals and other Trump cultists giving him and the Republican Party their unwavering support, you should know the GOP has been guilty of voter intimidation in the very recent past. Here’s a little bit of background on the subject provided by Trump’s favorite source of “Fake News,” The Washington Post: (emphasis mine)

More than 30 years ago, a Republican Party program that dispatched off-duty police officers to patrol polling places in heavily Black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey triggered accusations of voter intimidation, resulting in a federal agreement that restricted for decades how the national GOP could observe voting.

The RNC came under scrutiny for allegedly violating the Voting Rights Act in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial race, when the party was accused of creating a “National Ballot Security Task Force” made up of off-duty deputy sheriffs and local police officers who wore armbands and patrolled the polls in largely Black and Latino neighborhoods. Some allegedly displayed their firearms. Official-looking signs were posted at some precincts warning that voter fraud is a crime and that the task force was watching.

After the Democratic Party sued, the RNC entered into a federal consent decree in 1982 in which it admitted no wrongdoing but promised it would not take efforts to suppress the minority vote and would allow courts to review and approve future ballot security efforts.

In practice, that meant that for decades, the RNC largely ceded poll-watching activities to a candidate’s campaign operations.

However, a federal judge allowed the consent decree to expire in 2018.

Two years after those limits have been lifted, Trump is reviving the idea of using law enforcement officers — ‘supporters’ or ‘volunteers’ according to past statements — as poll watchers in an attempt to invalidate the 2020 election through voter intimidation.

The silence from the GOP on this matter is deafening; and the support it’s receiving from the faux-conservative media is frightening and sad — especially when we take a look back at a Philadelphia precinct during the 2008 election.

In Philadelphia’s 14th Ward, two members of the New Black Panther Party were positioned as poll watchers outside a voting location on election day dressed in the group’s quintessential military gear with one member carrying a nightstick. They were captured on video and were accused of trying to discourage some people from voting.

So-called conservatives were outraged, and a lawsuit was filed focusing on the two New Black Panther Party poll monitors in the video.

The case created a political controversy for the Obama administration as conservative lawyers, politicians and commentators raised concerns that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had failed to protect the civil rights of white voters and whether or not the DOJ had mishandled the lawsuit.

The matter was so controversial that it caught the attention of GOP lawmakers who held up the confirmation of Obama’s assistant attorney for civil rights for months pending a congressional review of the case. In 2010, the case was dropped altogether.

Trump has limited authority when it comes to ordering local law enforcement to do anything, let alone patrol polling places. The states have the constitutionally protected right to conduct and determine elections as they see fit, not to mention that local law enforcement agencies are beyond Trump’s authority as president.

As I once pointed out in an article about red flag laws, the office of sheriff is unique in that he is directly responsible to the people of his county, not the government or the courts. Sheriffs are elected, not appointed, and they have complete authority to reject the acts of any agency of the government if those acts violate the rights of the people.

Additionally, federal law bars U.S. government officials from sending “armed men” in the vicinity of polling places. According to the Justice Department, this means a U.S. attorney cannot order FBI agents or U.S. marshals to serve as poll monitors.

But Trump has shown how little he cares about the Constitution and the rule of law, and he’s been more than willing to shred them for his personal benefit.

Apparently, that includes a plan to use voter and poll monitors to invalidate the 2020 election and stay in office.


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

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