Donald Trump's Poll Watchers Idea Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen
Come Election Day, some registered voters may find their right to cast a ballot called into question, all thanks to Donald Trump's poll watchers idea. The Republican nominee has asked his supporters to become "election observers," tasked with monitoring the polls on election day in order to catch those attempting to cheat the system. Suggesting that he would only lose the election if he fell victim to a "rigged" system, he's called on his supporters to turn out in droves to "go down to certain areas and watch and study, and make sure other people don't come in and vote five times." Because that can't possibly be a racially-fueled disaster waiting to happen, right?
According to a report by Mother Jones, Trump is enlisting his group of observers at rallies and through his official campaign website, which instructs voters to "Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!" by signing up to become election day monitors. This, says Trump, would require his supporters to "go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine." Trump's running mate Mike Pence similarly tried to fire up a crowd of supporters last month, telling them "you are the greatest vanguard for integrity in voting."
This type of election monitoring, unsurprisingly, has not gone well in the past. Monitoring typically leads to a slowed down voting process, as monitors and voters alike are often unaware of the state-by-state laws that dictate what people must do when their right to vote is challenged. This often causes hours-long delays, and has been known to discourage people from voting entirely.
In many of the 46 states that allow election monitoring, few require any basis for a challenge. The result, as Mother Jones points out, is so-called monitoring that is frequently based on race (in other words, whether or not someone looks like they're eligible to vote). Considering Trump's frequent remarks against people of color, this could be particularly damaging to Latino voters.
It wouldn't be surprising if Trump voters think people of color are not legitimately registered to vote or are otherwise cheating the system, considering white Trump supporters already have a hard time believing the candidate can have black supporters. (Remember when a white Trump supporter sucker-punched a black Trump supporter at a rally, thinking he was a protester?) It's easy to imagine much of the same could happen on Election Day.
With that being said, it's important to learn how to protect yourself if your right to vote is challenged. Learn about your state's voting laws, and in the event someone unjustly challenges you, you'll have the necessary materials to fight back. It's sad that people even have to prepare for such a thing, but it's the reality Trump and his campaign have created.