With the presidential election just days away, record voter turnout is being met with the specter of voter intimidation, leaving some Americans with fears of confrontation at the polls from now until Nov. 3.
Civil rights advocates, election experts, and government officials have expressed heightened concerns following President Donald Trump’s recent call for his supporters to “go into the polls and watch” for possible voting fraud, as well as his reelection campaign’s recruitment and training what it has called an “army” of supporters to become poll watchers. And they are working hard to make sure Americans know their rights when they get to the polls and know how to protect them.
“Voter intimidation is against the law, period,” Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told ABC News. “In the current political environment, there’s a palpable concern about voter intimidation that should not be understated, and there’s a genuine need for good-faith poll observers to be on alert for threats to the most fundamental aspect of our democracy: free and fair elections,” she said.
While experts say the overwhelming majority of voters will not experience intimidation, there are a few factors that make this election cycle stand out: the expiration of the 1981 consent decree that limited the RNC’s ability to engage in what it called “ballot security measures” following allegations of voter intimidation, and the rise of far-right armed groups and Trump’s reluctance to distance himself from them.
The concern is particularly acute for voters of color, who have historically been targeted by voter intimidation efforts. But experts say that voter intimidation will not be pervasive, despite the environment — and that there is a good deal that individuals can do to counter it.
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