Discerning motivation for many of Donald Trump’s actions has been the big challenge of the 2016 cycle. I have to admit I haven’t done any better than the rest of the commenter class. Now we have a new wrinkle to ponder.
I am among those who wouldn’t be completely surprised if Trump somehow dropped out of the race before the election. The most perplexing thing to me the entire time has been why he would want to be President in the first place. Last week he sent out another of his mixed signals when he expanded on his crooked Hillary/rigged system rant and asked his supporters to become voter fraud vigilantes on Election Day.
This went well with right wing mythology however it not only defies reality it violates several laws, election rules, court orders and court moderated agreements. The rules for election observers vary from state to state, but there are definite rules. John Q. Public can’t just show up and say he is personally enforcing election laws (which in most cases he is totally ignorant of).
In-person voter fraud is almost non-existent. In fact you a better chance of getting five numbers correct in Powerball. I am far from a lottery expert but how many people do you know who have won a minimum of $1,000,000 in a single Powerball play?
What Trump is trying to do is intimidate voters and thereby suppress the turnout. His “marshals” will probably show up armed in many cases. They may even be clad with some sort of armband and/or meaningless badge. That will not intimidate old white guys, which is Trump’s strength, but it will dissuade some people from demographic less favorable to him from showing up. Trump cannot win a high turnout election, but he could sneak in if his people disproportionality show up.
Rules on poll observers vary by state. It gets complicated which is why you need the local and state Parties to guide if not handle that part of the operation. A bunch of politically ignorant amateurs like the Trumps who notoriously do not listen to the few professionals they employ are totally unqualified to navigate election rules and laws.
If you think voter intimidation is a thing of long ago think again! I will give you a personal example from the 2000 election. I was living and voted in Pinellas County Florida in November of 2000. I lived in one of the nicer neighborhoods which was predominantly white. When my wife and I went to vote we did not see a law officer or a police vehicle. Saint Petersburg is also in Pinellas County and is home to many poorer people of color. At almost every polling place in St. Pete a Florida State Police or Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department vehicle was in clear sight. Let me remind you of a few facts. The Republican presidential candidate was George W. Bush. His brother Jeb Bush was the Governor of Florida in November 2000. The Sheriff of Pinellas County was a Republican. The election was very close. Florida’s electoral votes ended up being the difference after a Supreme Court decision and we will never know who truly won the Sunshine State that year.
What Trump is attempting to do is voter intimidation. Whether he is acting out of ignorance or malice doesn’t change the result. In a close election every vote counts, sometimes especially the ones that are never cast.
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