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According to POLITICO, white nationalists, KKK members and neo-Nazis plan to “watch polls” and harass Black and other voters of color on Election Day:
Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll-watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website “the Right Stuff” are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign.
The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct “intelligence-gathering” at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country.
These groups have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s candidacy, and have consistently backed his campaign from the start 16 months ago — in particular the KKK, who recently featured Trump on the front-page of their official newspaper in a “de facto endorsement,” according to the Washington Post.
Trump has also stoked up unfounded fears among his largely-white supporters about voter fraud, even though the first major voter fraud case emerging this election season has been from one of his own supporters in Iowa, who was recently charged with voting twice.
As researcher and election officer Alev Dudek noted in The Hill yesterday, voter fraud isn’t the problem — it’s voter intimidation, and that’s exactly what these pro-Trump extremists are trying to do to voters of color:
Energized by Trump’s candidacy and alarmed by his warnings of a “rigged election,” white nationalist, alt-right and militia movement groups are planning to come out in full force on Tuesday, creating the potential for conflict at the close of an already turbulent campaign season.
“The possibility of violence on or around Election Day is very real,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Donald Trump has been telling his supporters for weeks and weeks and weeks now that they are about to have the election stolen from them by evil forces on behalf of the elites.”
It is difficult to know at what scale these plans will materialize because Anglin and his fringe-right ilk are serial exaggerators, according to Potok. And rather than successfully uncover widespread voter fraud — for which there is a lack of compelling evidence — or successfully suppress minority turnout, Potok said the efforts are most likely to backfire.
“If on the morning of Election Day it turns out that we have white supremacists standing around looking threatening at polling places, I think it would arouse anger,” he said. “People would vote just to prove they’re not being intimidated by these radical racists.”
Earlier this month, the Boston Globe interviewed a Trump supporter who said he planned on going out to polling locations to look for “Mexicans…people who can’t speak American” so that he can “go right up behind them” and “make them a little bit nervous.”
Univision has an important voter guide for Latinos and other minorities on how to deal with voter intimidation, also available in Spanish.
The good news, however, is that voters of color are refusing to back down. Within the past few days, we’ve highlighted recent reports of high levels of participation and enthusiasm from Latino voters in key battleground states that will decide who occupies the White House next January. We’ve mobilized — and the pro-Trump forces have noticed.