Trump So Sad Random Goons Not Allowed To Intimidate PA Voters
During last night's Airing of Grievances, Chris Wallace asked Joe Biden and Donald Trump whether they would "urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period [of vote counting], not to engage in any civil unrest?" Well darned if Donald Trump was about to agree to any such thing, because it's madness out there, and his supporters need to flood into polling locations to ensure there's no funny business going on, like people who look like they could be illegally voting multiple times like Donald Trump told them to. Trump told Wallace, "I'm urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it," then he explained that he's already been informed of BAD THINGS going on in Philadelphia:
Chris Wallace: "Will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently… https://t.co/x4f3qtJQ8S— Axios (@Axios)1601433773.0
Donald Trump: As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They're called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things.
Oh no! What a travesty of democracy! What the hell is Philadelphia hiding? Oh, wait, the Philadelphia Inquirer explained: not a goddamn thing. Trump had the facts wrong, if you can imagine such a thing!
As it turns out, while seven "satellite election offices" are open for early voting in the Philadelphia area, they aren't traditional polling places: They're just offices where people can "register to vote and request, receive, complete and submit a mail-in ballot – all in one visit." Because they're simply duplicating services available at the city's main elections office, and they aren't doing traditional balloting, the satellite locations aren't subject to being monitored by poll watchers like voting at a polling place on Election Day would. And city officials are also enforcing social distancing, which confirms they're all crazy commies.
As City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, explained to the Inquirer, while some people may stay and fill out their absentee ballots at the satellite offices, they also have the option to take the ballot home and return it later, just as if they'd requested it in the mail (absentee ballots can also be dropped off at the locations, regardless of whether they were mailed to the voter or picked up in person). And that's not something poll watchers are allowed to interfere with. Smith said, "We don't give someone a poll watcher certificate to … watch somebody fill out their ballot at their kitchen table," either.
And despite Trump's urging his supporters to "go in to the polls and watch very carefully," that's definitely not how poll watching works, either. You can't just show up and demand to keep an eye on voters. States all have their own laws and rules regulating poll watchers, but almost none of them let some schmuck off the street waltz into a polling place to keep an eye on things. In Pennsylvania, campaigns and political parties can designate poll watchers, but the watchers have to have a certificate, and they have to be registered to vote in the county where they plan to observe voting. (Some states limit the number of watchers to one per party, and may require watchers to wear an official badge of some sort, too. Fancy!)
The Inquirer notes that as of right now "no poll watchers have been certified yet for the Trump campaign, the Republican Party, or other Republican campaigns." Which is OK, because as it happens, no early voting sites other than the satellite offices are open yet, either — and again, they're not doing the kind of in-person voting that poll watchers are allowed to observe.
So what about the Trumpatriots who were allegedly "thrown out" by sneaky city officials? Turns out it was one woman who showed up at a satellite election office at an elementary school Tuesday.
She said she was there to monitor "the integrity of the election" and asked to be allowed inside. The supervisor told her she was not allowed inside the building unless she was using the office's services.
The woman did not present any sort of certificate of being an official poll watcher, but calmly stated that she had a right to be inside.
The woman told The Inquirer she was "hired by the Trump campaign to oversee the integrity of the election." She said she was paid to monitor the West Philadelphia site. She would not provide her name or any further information, and she left the area shortly afterward.
Yeah, this is starting to sound like those people who go around insisting they have an absolute right to shop without a mask because they saw on the internet that being required to wear a mask is discrimination against HIPPO.
Even though poll watchers need to apply for certificates in most jurisdictions, the Inquirer notes that Trump has been telling people at his rallies to just barge into polling places to look for violations of election law. He really should tell them to bring a mirror when they do that.
Trump has been at it again this month, urging supporters at rallies in Nevada and North Carolina to sign up as poll watchers to prevent fraud.
"Be poll watchers when you go there," he said in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do."
In Nevada, it turns out, members of the general public can observe voting, with certain restrictions, but groups affiliated with Roger Stone have geared up to show up at polls with printed-out badges to make them look official (the badges are meaningless) and to interrogate voters about who they are and whether they're frauding, according to a complaint from the state Democratic Party. Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford announced yesterday that if Trump supporters cross the line from observing to intimidating voters, they would be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, such vigilante poll watching is just plain not allowed. County party chairs can appoint poll watchers, but they have to live in the county, be registered to vote there, and be of "good moral character," so no Democrats at all are presumably allowed, since they're all communists.
This all, of course, will keep getting stupider, and possibly violent, since if wingnuts are willing to show up with AR-15s to demand the right to spread communicable diseases, you can only imagine what they'll do if they think they're saving America from socialism. This will also be the first presidential election following the 2018 expiration of a nationwide consent decree that formally enjoined the GOP from engaging in voter intimidation for nearly four decades — fun fact: NOT sparked by William Fucking Rehnquist going to the polls to intimidate Mexicans, that was a whole different one! So get ready for all kinds of fuckery in the name of preserving Trumpian rule. If we're lucky, idiots buttonholing every voter to yell "It's not a democracy, it's a REPUBLIC!" will be the least of it.
Might not be a bad idea to prepare for Election Day by looking over the ACLU's voter rights page.
Oh, yes, and Joe Biden's answer to whether he'd tell his supporters to stay calm and not riot while votes are counted?
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