Donald Trump has been warning of a “rigged” election for months, and with Election Day right around the corner, now officials across the country are worried that his supporters may engage in vigilante violence when Americans hit the polls on Tuesday. Since the end of August, Donald Trump has been recruiting his supporters to be “Trump Election Observers.” According to Trump’s volunteer sign-up website, he needs his supporters to watch the polls on election day to, “Stop Crooked Hillary from rigging the election.”
The concerns about the potential of Trump supporters and election day violence have gotten so bad that lawsuits have been filed in four states to prevent Trump Election Observers from harassing or otherwise intimidating voters as they attempt to cast their ballot.
Now, according to a report by The Guardian, fears of potential Trump supporter-related Election Day violence are growing, as most recent polls have predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, despite a tightening race.
The Ohio DNC filed one of four lawsuits against Donald Trump and his Trump Election Observer programs, and on Friday a temporary restraining order was issued against the Trump campaign. The ruling? That anyone caught engaging in “intimidation or harassment inside or near Ohio polling places” on behalf of the Trump campaign will be charged with contempt of court.
Despite the Ohio ruling and similar lawsuits against the Trump campaign in three other states, the trend of Trump supporters and other Republicans volunteering to serve as “official poll watchers” has increased sharply as Election Day draws closer. Further exacerbating the fears of Trump supporters planning election day violence have been the publicly-announced plans of at least one white supremacist group and a large massive anti-government militia to send their own members to watch the polls on Election Day.
The National Socialist Movement, a large, well-organized, neo-Nazi organization, is reportedly planning on utilizing hundreds of its devoted white nationalist members in a widespread effort to watch polls on Election Day. The group is planning on sending members to lurk outside polling places in 48 states on Tuesday. Their aim, according to the group’s chief of staff? To blend in and watch for signs of voter fraud.
“They’re going to look like everybody else that’s going in there to vote.”
Butch Urban, riding along the “Trump train” of thought, added that there is so much voter fraud going on that his deployed neo-Nazis plan to have lawyers on call.
The Oath Keepers are planning on getting in on the covert Election Day poll watching, and they plan on doing so armed with concealed weapons. Something that could add fuel to the fire of Election Day violence at the hands of Trump supporters. Reportedly, the group of Trump supporters has organized “Operation Sabot 2016” to keep an eye on the polls. The majority of Oath Keepers are well-trained, mostly military, and are ex-military and law enforcement.
The 30,000-strong group’s leader, Steward Rhodes, wants his group to blend in, even if that means dressing the part.
“That may mean wearing a Bob Marley, pot leaf, tie-die [sic] peace symbol, or ‘Che’ Guevara T-Shirt, etc.”
Further, Rhodes wants his army of poll watching Trump supporters to bring their weapons and keep them hidden as they covertly watch voters at polling sites across the nation.
“‘We do NOT want open-carry (remember, again, that this is a covert operation)’ – and that they should be aware of laws barring even concealed gun carrying in polling places.”
Further stoking the fear of potential Election Day violence at the hands of Trump supporters is the rhetoric that’s spreading on social media. As CNN reports, this year Donald Trump and his supporters have taken a very dark turn with their rhetoric. There has been extensive talk of a (not metaphorical) revolution and the spilling of blood in order to make America “great again.” The threats of violence have come not just from the common American Trump voter, but from prominent Republican politicians as well.
In many cases, the threats haven’t been vague. One such instance involved former Representative Joe Walsh, who took to Twitter to threaten to arm himself in the event of a Trump loss. He also invited other, like-minded Trump-supporters to join him with a, “You in?”
When asked what he meant, the Trump-supporting former Republican politician removed all potential ambiguity from his statement.
Trump supporter Roger Stone (an “unofficial” Trump adviser who helped organize the controversial Trump Election Observer program) made similar disturbing comments during an August Breitbart interview. The subject? What would happen in the aftermath of a Trump loss due to a so-called “rigged” election.
“I think (Trump’s) gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical — and I mean civil disobedience, not violence — but it will be a bloodbath.”
High profile Trump supporter and “rigged election” advocate Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke also spoke out in apparent favor of Election Day violence. He declared the current election cycle to be “pitchfork and torches time in America!”
A less famous Trump supporter who is also apparently planning Election Day violence is the infamous “Rhonda,” who spoke at an October 11 Mike Pence event in Iowa. Speaking from the crowd, she told Trump’s running-mate what she plans to do if Hillary Clinton wins on Election Day.
“Our lives depend on this election. Our kids’ futures depend on this election, and I will tell you just for me, and I don’t want this to happen, but I will tell you for me, personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself, I’m ready for a revolution because we can’t have her in.”
To his credit, Governor Pence attempted to quiet her call to Election Day violence immediately with a sharp, “Don’t say that!”
Another Trump supporter, 25-year-old Jared Halbrook of Wisconsin, who was recently interviewed by the New York Times, gave his thoughts on potential Election Day violence in the event of a Hillary win. He claimed that a Trump loss could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”
“People are going to march on the capitols. They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there. If push comes to shove, [Clinton] has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.”
Violence has also plagued Trump rallies throughout the election cycle, often involving Trump supporters assaulting anti-Trump protesters. Often with Donald Trump’s support from the podium. One recent incident took place on October 14, reports CNN. That’s when a Trump protester was violently attacked by Trump supporters, and was put into a headlock, after Trump pointed him out and said “get out!”
What do you think? Do you think a Clinton victory will bring a wave of violence? Do you think Trump supporters are planning Election Day violence if their candidate fails to clinch a White House win?
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]