Voters will need to be vigilant on Election Day, a day that will mark the end of a contentious election cycle, to ensure their vote is actually cast. Many outlets are reporting that Donald Trump supporters are going to extreme levels to prevent votes from being cast by Democrats, specifically minorities, on Election Day. The Huffington Post says that a group backed by Trump supporter Roger Stone is reportedly sending volunteers to monitor polling stations with high minority populations in nine major U.S. cities on Election Day.
The Huffington Post notes that every Election Day comes with its share of voter intimidation tactics, but the group backed by Roger Stone known as Vote Protectors “is going further than its predecessors.” There are measures in place to prevent voter intimidation, however, and voters will have to remain vigilant at the polls.
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 26, 2016
TheHuffington Post launched an investigation into suspected voter intimidation tactics of the group known as Vote Protectors with alarming results. The group known as Vote Protectors is reportedly undertaking extreme measures to create allegedly falsified exit polls, and to allegedly videotape voters. It is a group that is based solely on volunteers, and includes the use of “official looking” ID badges, reports the Huffington Post.
Or at least the Huffington Post says, that was their plan until the Huff Post asked Roger Stone some questions on the operation.
The Huffington Post says that the group is planning on conducting exit polls that it alleges will intimidate and confuse voters. When the Huffington Post asked Roger Stone about the process, he initially said that his exit polling was going to operate within the confines of the law.
He also told Huffington Post there were things on the Stop the Steal website for the Vote Protectors group that were on the website without his knowledge. This website is reportedly either directly connected to Vote Protectorsvideotapingor is one and the same organization.
But, Roger Stone refused to answer any details on just how Vote Protectors was going to accomplish its goals of “protecting the vote” in initial conversations with Huffington Post this past Tuesday. When Roger Stone refused to answer any more questions, Huffington Post went on the website for themselves to investigate further.
They were able to enroll as a volunteer of the organization, and were able to create a badge that would identify them as a “Vote Protector” and enroll on the site. Since the investigation of the Huffington Post, the I.D. Badge Generator has been taken off the site. “Citizen journalists” however can still enroll on the site to become an exit pollster for Stop the Steal.
The Huffington Post says the I.D. Badge Generator was something that might confuse voters and “could pass for an official credential to people unfamiliar with polling signage and rules.” The only qualification for signing up to be a “citizen journalist” that exit polls for Stop the Steal is a name and a phone number and some precinct information, although if a member is not sure they can still register. Huffington Post signed up with fake information and became a member quickly.
Trump "VOTE PROTECTORS" to use FAKE IDs, fake “exit polls", videotape voters, target high-minority citieshttps://t.co/96GAWiWJTn
— Beth McNastywoman (@BethR_27516) October 26, 2016
Once a sign up occurs, members are directed to a members-only area where they are instructed to “commit to go out in November and post their You Tube and Periscope streams to the Vote Protectors website,” reports the Huffington Post. There are reportedly no legal instructions on the website that mention pollsters must get the permission of voters to take their videos, suggesting voters may want to be wary of anyone wanting to take videos of them on Election Day.
Detailed instructions were initially given to pollsters however on how to upload the videos they take to the website, but this information has allegedly since been removed from contact between Roger Stone and Huffington Post occurred.
Anyone that is registered on the website can enter numbers for exit polls reports Huffington Post. A pollster does not even need to be at an actual polling station reportedly, as Huffington Post accidentally registered two votes for Donald Trump, “despite having never entered an electoral precinct” and also while using a false name.
The Guardian looked into the Vote Protectors website and workings as well, saying the methods of exit polling were branded as “highly irregular” according to David Paleologos, a polling expert with Suffolk University Political Research Center.
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 25, 2016
The Guardian reports that the Vote Protectors group will be using approximately 1,300 volunteers across 600 American cities that lean Democrat on Election Day. Those cities include Cleveland, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fayetteville, Richmond, and Charlotte.
David Paleologos, also director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center also told the Guardian the following.
“It doesn’t sound like that’s a traditional exit poll. It sounds like that’s just gathering data, in heavily Democratic areas for some purpose. It doesn’t sound like exit polling.”
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 25, 2016
But it is the videotaping that the Huffington Post says is what veers close to the border of what might be considered voter intimidation. When Roger Stone was asked by the Huffington Post about this, he said he knew nothing about the fake badges or about videotaping. The Huffington Post sent him pictures of the fake badges, and he did not respond to the Huffington Post.
After that, the Huffington Post noted the badge generator had been taken down from the website.
Roger Stone than reportedly contacted the media outlet and told them he had the badge generator taken down, citing it as a “bad idea” and also saying the videotaping was, as well. But he is actively recruiting volunteers from his website Info Wars for the project.
Oh lovely. They're recruiting these "vote protectors" from InfoWars. pic.twitter.com/2Sp9YY7qpU
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) October 26, 2016
Roger Stone also told the Huffington Post that his volunteers were “collaborating” with Stop the Steal, but that they were not the same organization.
But, a look at the Vote Protectors Twitter timeline suggests otherwise. Under the @voteprotector Twitter handle, most of the promotional materials have “Stop The Steal” written on them. The Vote Protectors Twitter timeline also has updates about the Stop The Steal website going down, a tweet that appeared after the Huffington Post report.
Vote Protectors also contacted Huffington Post about what they alleged were errors in the report, and then said “Contact me @StopTheSteal.” It does appear the organizations are one and the same.
@stopthesteal.org is down for maintenance. Please take this time to grow your contact list.
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 26, 2016
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 27, 2016
The Huffington Post says the group’s objective is to crack down on “voter fraud” but also notes, voter fraud is a “statistically nonexistent phenomenon.” The Huffington Post also notes that at a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump told supporters to “stand guard” on Election Day, and said,
“You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get your friends, and you’ve got to get everyone you know, and you’ve got to watch your polling booths. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of, you know what I’m talking about.”
Stop the Steal, or, Vote Protectors, also has promotional materials on their Twitter timeline with the picture of Vladimir Putin on it.
— Voteprotectors (@voteprotector) October 24, 2016
Voters should be aware that being videotaped without granting permission on Election Day (or at any time) is an intimidation tactic, is illegal, and an invasion of privacy, reports the Huffington Post. Danielle Lang, a deputy director of voting rights for the Campaign Legal Center, told the Huffington Post the following.
“It’s inherently intimidating and an invasion of privacy to videotape private citizens at the polls without their consent. Objectively intimidating voters is unlawful, no matter where you do it.”
Trump: Keep your eyes open on election day, folks
Trumppl: And look for what… blacks & Mexicans?
Trumppl: You heard him!
— Quid Pro Whoa (@Bahbuto) October 19, 2016
The Boston Globe has spoken with one Trump supporter who says he is patrolling his local polling station to look for minorities. Steve Webb, 61, told the Boston Globe the following.
“Well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little nervous.”
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) October 15, 2016
TheBoston Globe says Trump supporters are concerned that “Democrats will load up buses of minorities” and have them vote multiple times. The Boston Globe also reports that Donald Trump hinted that the Secret Service that is on Hillary Clinton’s detail be “disarmed and see what happens to her.”
But the Boston Globe also says that Donald Trump campaign released a statement after reports of violence on Election Day surfaced, saying the following.
“We reject violence in any form and will not allow it to be a part of our campaign. Those who hold unacceptable views do not represent the millions of Americans who are tired of the rigged Washington system that will make their voices heard at the ballot box on November 8.”
The Guardian reports there are a number of safeguards in place to ensure voter fraud does not happen, and for voters to ensure their voice is heard on Election Day. Voting early for one, if your state allows it, will ensure the ballot is cast long before the exit pollsters hit a voting precinct.
Princeton researcher Jeremy Epstein, a technology expert that works with voting machines, has also said that remedies are happening already to protect voting machines from being vulnerable to hacking on Election Day.
Epstein also told the Guardian that exit polls weren’t very accurate.
“There’s a lot of evidence that exit polls are not very accurate. People don’t tell the pollsters what they actually did. In this election, people might not want to admit that they voted for Clinton or that they voted for Trump.”
Paper ballots is a suggestion offered by Epstein as a way to ensure your vote is heard. He predicts that 80 percent of voters will use paper ballots, and this will safeguard a vote from being hacked. Voters are within their legal rights to request a paper ballot if they are uncomfortable with voting electronically. The Guardian also reports that the Department of Homeland Security is taking security precautions on Election Day.
An expert told the Guardian that the Vote Protectors exit polling didn’t sound like a real exit poll, but “much more like a dirty Roger Stone trick.”
Alternet also says there are other things voters can do for themselves to be vigilant on Election Day. Voters do not have to show photo identification to anyone that is not wearing government identification. And, voters do not have to give permission to be videotaped if they don’t want to be videotaped as this could run the risk of having identification photographed.
Alternet also says lookup the voter ID laws for the precinct before heading to the polls on Election Day. Voters may not be required to have photo ID, and there may be some tricky pollsters on Election Day at a precinct asking voters for ID when they aren’t legally required to show it.
Voters should also be wary of polling station times and closings. Voters that are in line before closing are eligible to vote, and want to be wary of anyone that tells them otherwise or that tells them the polling station has closed for the day. Ballotpedia has a full list of all precincts by the state, as well as the hours of operation for each polling precinct in each state.
Thirty-four of the states require voter identification. Voters can find out on the National Conference of State Legislatures what their state requirement is, with the full list of state voter ID laws, in a state list and chart.
Alternet also says if someone is following a voter or a voter feels uncomfortable at any time at a polling precinct or while voting for either candidate, report it. The voter protection line for any suspected illegal activity on Election Day is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Or, follow the Twitter timeline and tweet to @866OURVOTE any suspected bad information or voter fraud or intimidation.
[Featured Image by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]