The now officially endorsed candidate of the Ku Klux Klan seemingly has no problem taking support from the violent right-wing fringe of the white nationalist movement, and they plan to be out in force in an effort to stop those people from voting on Tuesday.
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.
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.”
Of course we've seen these threats before, and if anything, they only helped to increase turnout for Democrats in 2008 and 2012. But the threats themselves are very clear and have been for decades.
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.”
Despite Trump’s claims that American democracy is compromised by massive voter fraud, so far in this election only one person — a Trump supporter in Iowa who attempted to vote twice — has been arrested for it. That has not stopped fringe groups already inclined to believe that minorities are stealing the election from heeding Trump’s call to monitor voting in “certain areas.”
This time around the fear is that it will be different. So far these idiots haven't been able to cause too much trouble in polling places, but that was before the GOP made voter suppression of black and Latino voters a top priority and nominated a presidential candidate endorsed by the actual KKK.
Of course, the real problem is all the people voting for Trump who are looking the other way on this. They're just as likely to look the other way should violence break out at polling precincts too.