President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are attempting to frighten and intimidate voters by making false charges of voter fraud.
Both of them issued strong warnings on Monday about the threat of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections.
This is a continuation of Trump’s claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election. These claims were shown to be completely without merit as no proof was ever given of 2016 voter fraud.
Voting rights advocates promptly charged his administration with trying to intimidate voters and suppress voter turnout on Tuesday.
- Trump tweeted that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.”
- Sessions announced that his Justice Department will closely monitor ballot access on Election Day, saying “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”
On his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump falsely told reporters that voter fraud is commonplace.
“Just take a look,” he said. “All you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people — a lot of people — my opinion, and based on proof — that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.”
The problem with Trump’s comments — as always — is that there is no proof to back them up. In fact, they are outright lies.
We know that there is no widespread voter fraud in the United States because that was the conclusion of a voter fraud commission that Trump himself formed after the 2016 elections. The issue was studied and the commission was disbanded without finding evidence of fraud.
Voting rights advocates believe that Trump is engaged in a blatant attempt to intimidate voters on the eve of Election Day. They also believe this is a pattern among Republicans. The goal, they say, is to restrict minority voting access. They do this by imposing unnecessarily strict voting rules which have been shown to mostly affect voters of color, the majority of whom vote for Democrats.
“I find this kind of conduct incredibly anti-patriotic,” said Kristen Clarke, who leads the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights group that has successfully challenged several new voting restrictions across the country this year. “At a time when we need our White House and Justice Department speaking out against the relentless campaign of voter suppression in this election cycle, it defies reason.”
Due to problems in the past, political parties, interest groups and voting rights organizations have organized “war rooms” this year. They will be closely watching Tuesday’s elections, using thousands of volunteer lawyers who have been recruited to monitor voting precincts across the country.
In his statement, Sessions said the Justice Department will follow its usual protocol of sending monitors across the country to protect against voter suppression, intimidation and discrimination; this year, staff will travel to 35 jurisdictions in 19 states to monitor compliance with voting laws.
“It’s indicative of a pattern with this administration,” said David Vance, a spokesman for Common Cause. “It’s an effort to intimidate voters and keep them away from the polls and try to dictate which voters will turn out and which voters won’t. It flies in the face of what the DOJ has done traditionally to protect voters.”
His group has helped recruit 6,500 volunteers to monitor polling locations across the country Tuesday. It appears that people who value democracy and free elections are prepared this year for the onslaught of Trump’s lies.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.