By Eliza Newlin Carney
Donald Trump’s racially tinged calls for his backers to “watch” voters in “certain areas” lest the election be “rigged” against him have alarmed voting-rights advocates, who are mobilizing thousands of volunteers to protect voters from Election Day harassment and obstruction.
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The League of Women Voters “has been pretty concerned about these statements, because of the chance of intimidation and discrimination,” says Lloyd Leonard, the League’s senior advocacy director. The League is one of several voting-rights groups rounding up volunteers to help to forestall disruptions or challenges at the polls, which could lead at least to long lines, and at worst to voter suppression.
With his dark warnings that “a lot of bad things happen” and that his supporters should “go check out areas”—read African American and Latino neighborhoods—to guard against fraud, Trump is not just playing to some of his largely white voters’ ugliest instincts. He’s also peddling a voter fraud myth that’s been discredited by empirical research, and that is no longer holding up in court.