Monday, October 31, 2016

Poll Lurkers & Other Really Scary Things

Rigged U.S. elections? Meet Trump flunkie
Terri Lynn Rote of Des Moines Iowa
In light of today's Halloween holiday it seems appropriate to talk about scary stuff.

No ghosts or goblins or anything, though I'm sure a few of those will be lurking about this evening in search of candy.

There are some genuinely frightening things going on in America these days.

For example there is die-hard Trump zealot Terri Lynn Rote, a 55-year-old woman from Des Moines.

Over the past few weeks Trump has criss-crossed the country whipping his supporters into a conservative frenzy by spouting off baseless nonsense about nonexistent widespread voter fraud by Democrats.

But of the millions of Americans who've already cast early votes, the most high-profile case of genuine voter fraud was Rote, who was jailed last Thursday after being arrested for first-degree election misconduct (a felony in Iowa) after she tried to cast two votes for Trump in Polk County.

Perhaps scarier are the Trump campaign's calls for thousands of "poll watchers" to gather outside polling sites in communities with larger populations of African-Americans and Hispanics to "monitor" the voting process for signs of suspicious activity.

The proposition that people who support Democrats and happen to be non-white are plotting to descend upon the polls en masse with the intent of pulling a Terri Lynn Rote is as absurd as it is racist, but plenty of folks have swallowed the Orange Kool-Aid.

For example an unknown individual was reported to be videotaping the license plates of vehicles parked at an early-voting poll site in Durham, North Carolina.

Oath Keepers: ready for some poll watchin' !
The large coalition of voter rights groups known as Election Protection has mobilized thousands of volunteers, monitors and attorneys across the country to be prepared to confront and report those kinds of voter intimidation tactics.

Remember the anti-government militia group known as the Oath Keepers who showed up armed to the teeth on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri during protests against the killing of Michael Brown?

Last week they announced "Operation Sabot 2016" - a call for members of Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group comprised mostly of heavily-armed white former cops and soldiers, to head to the polls next Tuesday "undercover" to monitor poll sites for signs of voter fraud - which of course there's no evidence to prove actually exists.

The idea that armed members of this conspiracy-theory-prone posse will be lurking around the polls while citizens try and exercise their right to vote on November 8th is truly scary.

Kristen Clarke, the President and Executive Director of the Lawyer's Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, the organization heading up Election Protection, blames the Trump campaign's phony hysteria and unproven claims about voter fraud for the sharp rise in complaints about voter intimidation and misinformation received this year.

Clinton campaign General Counsel Marc Elias
As she observed recently:

"What we're seeing is basically a clarion call for people to go out and lurk outside polling sites, I think all of this presents cause for concern."

Trump's flagrant attempts to undermine public confidence in the 2016 presidential election is truly scary to the principles of Democracy.

Matt Taibi's scathing essay in the latest issue of Rolling Stone offers insight into the possible long-term consequences of Trump's effect on the American political system in the wake of his having ascended to become the 2016 GOP nominee.

But in the short-term he's having real effects on voter access to the polls next week.

As Rachel Stockman reported earlier today in an article on, under the direction of Marc Elias, General Counsel for Hillary Clinton's campaign, Democratic party leaders in the key battleground states Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada filed lawsuits against Trump and his campaign advisor Roger Stone in federal court asking a judge to "stop the defendants from monitoring polls, verbally harassing voters, and following them around to take pictures."

But there's no real mystery to Trump's newfound "crusade for voter integrity".

Everything that comes out of his mouth in the coming days is either about the F.B.I 's questionable fishing probe into the emails of Clinton aide Huma Abedin a week before a presidential election, or imaginary voter fraud.

It's just an effort to deflect attention from the fact that he hasn't paid federal taxes in at least eighteen years, and the more than ten women who've accused him of being a sexual predator - including a woman who claims he raped her when she was only thirteen years old back in 1994 at a party.

Trump is due in court in federal December on that one - but that's less horrifying than a bunch of mishandled emails right?

Now THAT is scary.

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