“I urge my supporters to come to the polls and watch very closely, because that’s what is going to happen. I urge them to do that,” Trump said when asked if he would tell his supporters to stay calm and not take part in the riots. elections.
Government officials strike at the President for his remarks and interact with local law enforcement agencies and others who have the authority to maintain order in polling stations to ensure their preparation.
“Trump also told his supporters to ‘go to the polls and observe very closely.’ But he didn’t talk about election observation. He talked about intimidating voters,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “HISTORY ̵1; intimidating voters in Nevada is illegal. Believe me when I say this: you will do it and you will be held accountable.”
There are certain laws and precautions about how people and campaigns can be official observers of polls in most states. The rules depend on the state, and many of them include official registration and the number of people from each party who can observe in a particular place. But experts warn that Trump’s remarks will cause problems with “unofficial” polling observers – people who appear outside polling stations outside the reach of these rules and intimidate voters.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, another Democrat, told CNN on Thursday that Minnesota law limits the number of polling observers to one per campaign, but he is concerned that more people will come to try to observe election day.
“I’m more concerned about what’s going on outside the polls with those frustrated supporters of any candidate who show up thinking they’ll be allowed access and knowing they won’t be,” Simon said.
Electoral officials across the country have begun preparing for the worst by contacting local law enforcement and other law enforcement officials, said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.
“I am very concerned that polling armies may interfere with the election, that they may be ill-prepared, or that they may be seen as intimidating,” Becker told CNN. “Election officials have to think about these things more than ever.”
Within polling stations, some states limit the number of campaign observers, but in other states everyone can observe. For example, in Wisconsin, anyone can be an election observer until he or she enters the system, stays in a “designated observer area,” and does not create unrest, said Reed Magney, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Electoral Commission.
“The guiding principle is that the activities of election observers cannot cause chaos at the polling station,” Magni said. “Observers cannot deal with every case or intervene. If an observer has any information about a voter’s qualifications, for example, a person is a convicted criminal, they can say, ‘I want to challenge this voter.’ But they must have personal knowledge.”
Trump’s campaign defended the president’s statement in a CNN statement.
“Polling observers are crucial to ensuring the fairness of any election, and volunteers who observe President Trump’s polls will be trained to ensure that all rules are applied equally, that all valid ballots are counted, and that all violations of Democratic rules are challenged,” she said. Thea MacDonald. said.
“If fouls are announced, the Trump campaign will go to court to enforce the law, as legally written by state legislatures, to protect the right of every voter in the election,” McDonald added. “President Trump and his team will be ready to ensure that polling stations are conducted properly, safely and transparently as we work to ensure the free and fair elections that Americans deserve.”
Confusion in places for voting
“She wanted to go inside the facility and monitor the vote, and tried to videotape the volunteers when they told her she had to stay the same distance as the other polling observers, outside,” said Julian Lutz, who voted with his mother. and witnessed the incident, told CNN.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania told CNN that the agency is actively involved in identifying and stopping voter intimidation and interference, and there are discussions at the local and state levels about intimidating voters working in polling stations.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the city was preparing for election day in response to Trump’s call for supporters to come to the polls.
“Based on his comments, we’re going to make an interagency plan for the day,” Kenny said.
Last month, a group of Trump supporters appeared near a polling station in the suburbs of Democratic Virginia, waving flags of Trump’s campaign and shouting, “Four more years.” Some voters and election officials said they were intimidated by the episode. Due to the pandemic, voters lined up on the streets, but this violation forced the opening of additional space in the Fairfax County Government Center and prevented uncomfortable voters from waiting. At least one voter also asked to be escorted past the group.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Goering said Trump’s comments “openly call on his supporters to gather at polling stations, go inside, and allegedly harass and intimidate voters.”
“Although there are authorized polling observers who monitor polls on election day, their responsibilities are clear and do not include what President Trump has proposed. Virginia will not allow harassment or intimidation of voters,” Herring said. Democrat.
Electoral officials and experts are preparing for more direct confrontation and even potential violence. Since the debate, white nationalist groups and far-right activists have applauded Trump’s debate call to action and his response that the far-right Proud Guys should “stand back and stand by.”
“ Join the Army for Trump’s Election Operation ”
Trump’s campaign is also working to encourage his supporters to observe the election on election day. Behind the scenes of the campaign, the Republican National Committee has been recruiting polling station workers for months. RNA officials say the involvement of observers in polling stations is a “huge” part of their election day activities, as they seek to send tens of thousands of election observers across the country, which Republicans say could be their biggest election observation operation.
In Pennsylvania, the mission of recruiting polling station observers is central, with Facebook advertising being paid for by local Republican leaders by directing Trump supporters to the Trump Army for Trump website.
The rhetoric surrounding poll tracking often uses inflammatory and militant vocabulary.
“We need all able-bodied men and women who join the military to conduct Trump’s election security operation on Defendyourballot.com,” said Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.
Regular advertising, paid for by the Republican City Committee of Philadelphia, encourages supporters to “fight back” Democrats. “You’ve seen the news. You’ve seen Democrats try to lose weight. Now it’s time to REJECT,” the statement said.
Democrats and voter groups say the possibility of violence is real.
“The risk of violence is even more pronounced at this point because we have seen violence escalate across the country over the past six months,” said Tammy Patrick, a senior non-party adviser to the Democracy Foundation who focuses on the integrity of the election. “Election officials know this. They have protocols to secure the polling station and train polling station staff at the moment.”
Patrick said states have rules governing the conduct of polling stations, but those rules have a physical limit to how far they go beyond the polling stations themselves.
“Part of the problem is also that when you have people who are outside the polls to run for election for your candidate, it’s perfectly legal in every state if they go outside the law,” Patrick said. “In some cases, it can be perceived as intimidation or, depending on what these people say or do, it can be intimidation. And so there will be a problem of perception on both sides of the aisle of what is acceptable and what is not.”