From fake ID badges to photographing voters’ cars.
By Kira Lerner – – – – – –
With less than a week until the election, claims of voter intimidation are already raising alarms across the country and foreshadowing what we may see on Election Day.
Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to “watch” polls in certain minority-heavy, inner-city areas to guard against a “rigged” election. While there is no indication that his campaign is planning a organized effort, some Trump supporters have taken matters into their own hands.
From threatening behavior by poll workers to allegations that law enforcement approached people in line to vote, claims of intimidation have emerged across the country. But which are verified and worrisome, and which are merely unsubstantiated rumors?
Trump supporters made fake badges to observe polling locations
Donald Trump ally Roger Stone’s group, Vote Protectors, has been organizing volunteers to go out and monitor polling places in nine U.S. cities with large minority populations. The group plans to conduct fake “exit polls” and to videotape voters at the polls. And according to a Huffington Post report, Vote Protectors’ website also allowed volunteers to create fake ID badges.
Reporter Christina Wilkie was able to create a few fake badges on the website. By wearing one of these badges, Trump supporters could falsely convey that they are trained or legally allowed to monitor polls.
When Wilkie asked Stone about the “ID badge generator,” he asserted that he was not aware of the feature and that his group would not be breaking any election laws. The badge generator was immediately removed from the website.
North Carolina poll worker carried a baseball bat marked “TRUMP”
The Lee County, North Carolina Democratic Party reported on Facebook that a poll worker stood across the street from the Board of Elections office carrying a baseball bat marked “TRUMP.”
The Democratic Party said that it filed a report with the Board of Elections, but elections officials were not immediately available for comment.
A widely circulated photo shows an undocumented immigrant voting
A photo circulated the internet last week alleging to show a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent arresting an undocumented immigrant in the back of a line outside a polling location.
As ProPublica and others reported, the image — originally shared by a Trump supporter — was fake and was disseminated in order to scare Latino voters away from casting ballots.
In reality, the image is a composite of two separate photos that were purposefully combined to stir up Latino voters’ fears of deportation.
North Carolina voter photographed and videotaped cars
A voter in North Carolina has already heeded Trump’s calls to intimidate voters.
Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham told Roll Call that “someone showed up to early voting with a badge saying ‘poll observer’ and was photographing and videotaping cars coming and going and ‘generally being an intimidating factor there.’”
Earls said the situation ended after a call to local officials.
Trump supporters held guns outside a Democratic candidate’s office
On October 13, after the start of Virginia’s early voting period, two armed Trump supporters staged a protest in front of the office of Jane Dittmar, a Virginia Democratic candidate for Congress.
The two stood for almost 12 hours,“turning sideways so that those inside could see that they were carrying firearms,” according to a Dittmar volunteer who was inside the office.
Daniel Parks, one of the protesters, told a local reporter that he hopes his protest encourages other Trump supporters to stand up for what they believe in. “I’m just trying to provide a voice for someone who might be a closet supporter of Trump,” he said. “Other people who are a little worried to speak out because of possible persecution.”
“We’re not a threat to anybody, the only threat is ignorance, and ignorance breeds fear,” Parks said.
Six Latino senior citizens were intimidated at their homes
Texas state representative Ramon Romero and the United Hispanic Council are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate claims of voter intimidation in Fort Worth.
Romero told a local reporter that six senior citizens “told him that people came to their homes and interrogated them about how they were voting.” The six people, who were all planning to vote by mail, told him they were scared and may not vote as a result.
“The people are asking questions about their specific voting habits, namely how and why they voted by mail and then telling them that what they did could possibly have been illegal” Romero said.