Vote suppression is synonymous with a Republican Party that has put more energy into that effort than in developing policy to benefit people, or even a get out the vote effort.
This year is no different, as Trump attacks the very fabric of American democracy by invoking statistically non-existent voter fraud as his go-to excuse for what poll data suggests will be a humiliating defeat.
While the voter fraud in “certain neighborhoods” and the inner cities is statistically non-existent, the same cannot be said about attempts at election rigging by Trump’s GOP loyalists.
According to The Nation’s Ari Berman, a Wisconsin city clerk and Scott Walker ally brought student voting at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay to a trickle with the stated intent of suppressing votes by students because they are more likely to vote for Democrats.
In an email to David Buerger, counsel for the Wisconsin Ethics commission, Chris Teske wrote:
UWGB is a polling location for students and residents on Election Day, but I feel by asking for this to be the site for early voting is encouraging the students to vote more than benefiting the city as a whole…
I have heard it said that students lean more toward the democrats…. I have spoken with our Chief of Staff and others at City Hall and they agree that budget wise this isn’t going to happen. Do I have an argument about it being more of a benefit to the democrats?
While most candidates and people actively involved in elections, know the value of a strong get out the vote effort. However, Republicans have known for years that their best chance at winning an election is to suppress the vote.
Donald Trump is also interested in deploying his supporters to intimidate voters suspected of voting for Hillary Clinton. That has other Republicans nervous because repeated calls at his for his supporters to observe “certain neighborhoods” and the recruiting efforts on his website could very well be a violation of an RNC consent decree that was part of a settlement in a case where the GOP was found to be intimidating voters.
The consent decree, issued in 1982, prevents the RNC from engaging in “ballot security” efforts or as Trump calls it “monitoring” aka voter intimidation.
Trump should know about the consent decree. His late brother-in-law and one-time personal attorney was also the Republican Party’s attorney in that case.
Even if they didn’t talk about that case, it’s inconceivable that Kellyanne Conway or other members of Trump’s campaign staff didn’t know about the consent decree precluding Republicans from voter intimidation or monitoring.
Be that as it may, some legal experts saw the danger the moment Trump first floated the idea of monitoring “certain neighborhoods” for potential voter fraud back in August.
At the time, Rick Hasen wrote:
One thing the consent decree says is that they must:
(e) refrain from undertaking any ballot security activities in polling places or election districts where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct, or the actual conduct of, such activities there and where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting; and the conduct of such activities disproportionately in or directed toward districts that have a substantial proportion of racial or ethnic populations shall be considered relevant evidence of the existence of such a factor and purpose…
If this activity violates the consent decree, the DNC can ask for it to be extended for up to another 8 years.
The Republicans dread the thought of another eight years under the consent decree.
Of course, the potential consequences for his party are unlikely to deter the “law and order” candidate. This means that voters may face voter intimidation à la Trump on Election Day.
There are some steps we can take to reduce the risk of voter intimidation. Early voting is a guarantee of evading Trump’s voter intimidation squads. For those of us who plan to vote on Election Day, voting with friends has merit. There’s safety in numbers and, if needed, you have a witness.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged when you go to the polls. If you are approached by one of Trump’s voter intimidation squads or you see them intimidating other voters, live stream it on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Whatever you do, don’t leave until you have cast your vote.
Aside from these measures it’s important to incidents of Trump style voter intimidation to a Department of Justice election monitor.
However, as reported in the New York Times, the Department of Justice will have fewer monitors at polling places.
Because of a Supreme Court ruling three years ago, the department will send special election observers inside polling places in parts of only four states on Election Day, a significant drop from 2012, when it sent observers to jurisdictions in 13 states.
And in a departure from a decades-old practice, observers will be sent to only one state in the South, where a history of discriminatory voting practices once made six states subject to special federal scrutiny.
Even if DOJ monitors are not present, you still have options, like contacting the FBI field office in your state. You can find phone number, address, and website links to your state’s FBI field office here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices
Call 866ourvote.org at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). Our Vote can take complaints of voter intimidation and offer advice on what to do.
Trump has tried to silence people for decades. Don’t let him do that to your vote.