One Pro-Trump group, Stop the Steal, plans to send volunteer poll watchers to nine different cities whose populations contain high numbers of minorities. They will be targeting voting precincts to “watch” counts as voter intimidation.
Poll Watching is not a new thing. Back in the early 1980’s, courts in New Jersey drafted a consent decree. Courts and the DNC accused the RNC of voter intimidation by way of targeting precincts where African Americans were registered. Roger Stone played a key role in the strategy of the voter intimidation plans of the ’80s in the state of New Jersey. Mr. Stone, once again, has a hand in this year’s election, as he is the founder of Stop the Steal. At the time, off-duty police volunteered for the job, and they even had nifty armbands that said “National Ballot Security Task Force” written on them to make them look official. The GOP, because of the overwhelming evidence, had little choice but to sign it, or risk further lawsuits.
If you had cops with armbands guarding the precincts, would you not be fearful to approach the precinct or to vote in a way that went against the supporting party?
Does this sound familiar?
Trump supporters had a website on which they could sign up as a poll watcher and print off an official looking ID. Many were encouraged to interact with voters by holding exit polls. The Huffington Post tested the website that the poll watchers would have used and the votes they entered came out with the correct input of numbers. However, there are no safeguards to prevent someone from tampering with the results by adding in whatever numbers they wish, and the site is designed more to make voters nervous about being put on the spot than anything.
A problem with the previously mentioned decree is that it expires next year. After this election, depending on how severe the intimidation tactics are, courts could renew it and even add more to the document for the extra protection of voters’ rights, as they have done over the years with various amendments.
Election Protection, the United States’ largest nonpartisan voting protection coalition, is concerned with the voter restrictions that several states have put in place that restricts mainly minorities. Voter ID laws and decisions in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin are serious issues, but there are also voter registration issues in Georgia and Ohio. Finally, there is the problem of voter intimidation at poll precincts.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has partnered with Election Protection and are currently trying to educate voters by setting up hotlines to call if there is a problem and to answer voters’ questions. These volunteers are there to help citizens fight back against the barriers that would otherwise prevent them from exercising their right to vote.
The contact number for English-language callers is 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) and they’re open 10am-6pm EST on weekdays.
The contact number for Spanish-language callers is NALEO’s 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) and is available year-round.
The contact number for Asian-Language voters: You will need to call and leave a message to AAJC and APIAVote’s 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) and a volunteer will return your call as soon as possible.
Another resource is the ACLU, as it has a page specifically for voting rights that you can find here: https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights
In their article about voter intimidation, they have an FAQ segment. Two questions that you need to pay extra attention to are “What do I do if someone challenges my qualifications to vote?” and “What do I do if I’m not on the list of registered voters?”
Their answer for the first is,
“Laws vary from state to state. In many states, if your qualifications to vote are challenged, you can give a sworn statement to the pollworker that you satisfy the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a regular ballot.”
And the answer to the second is that if for any reason you can’t be found on the registry, you should ask them to double check the regular list and then check the supplemental list (for voters who registered late). If they still cannot find your name, then you have the right to vote through a provisional ballot. Ask them for one. The pollworkers are required to help you through the process of using a provisional ballot. If they refuse to allow you to vote with one or if you feel there is voter intimidation at your precinct, call one of the numbers listed above to report it to The U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971, or to local and state officials, including poll workers, your county clerk, elections commissioner, elections supervisor, or your state board of elections.
Remember that you are a U.S citizen and they cannot stop you from voting in the elections. This is your country and you deserve a say in who runs it.
Be safe out there this Tuesday.
Author: The Bent Tree
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