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TRUMP LAYING GROUNDWORK TO NIX ELECTION RESULT

Last week, as Donald Trump ginned up for the Republican National Convention (RNC), he went on Fox News to talk with Sean Hannity about “voter fraud,” be it fraud committed at polling sites or fraud committed by mail. To preempt this, he assured his audience, he would send sheriffs, miscellaneous other law enforcement and US attorneys into polling places around the country to monitor for irregularities, Sasha Abramsky wrote for Truthout on August 29, 2020. 

This warning, along with ongoing GOP plans to send 50,000 “poll watchers” to polling stations around the country, echoed GOP strategies from decades past, when the party routinely sent out monitors to Black neighborhoods and other areas that tended to skew Democratic. In April, The Intercept reported that conservative activists wanted monitors for the November elections to include off-duty and retired police, military, even Navy SEALs — a practice that was banned between 1981 and 2018 by a consent decree stopping the GOP from carrying out such monitoring, but which has been permitted for the past couple years after a judge in New Jersey decided not to renew the consent decree. Into this legal opening, Trump apparently hopes to place an armed force intended to scare would-be voters away from polling sites. 


A few days after Trump’s Hannity interview, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf acknowledged his department didn’t actually have the authority to dispatch agents to in-person vote sites in November. In Congress, Trump’s beleaguered Postmaster General Louis DeJoy tried damage limitation by claiming that the US Postal Service was absolutely equipped to handle a surge in mail-in votes; he also reportedly told Trump and his operatives to stop undermining confidence in the postal system. 


Trump responded not with contrition but with more attacks on the postal system. As the GOP convention got underway, he continued issuing warnings that his opponents were intent on stealing the election through a vast conspiracy to commit wholesale vote-by-mail fraud. Now, this may all be bluster. But it’s calculated bluster that is designed to shore up Trump’s position in November. For whether or not Trump actually tries to order the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and other departments to send out armed agents and other officials to polling sites, the damage that he is already doing is immense, Abramsky concluded.


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