The Tea Party “election integrity” group True the Vote has been ramping up its efforts to send poll watchers to polling places in advance of the presidential election, fueled in part by Donald Trump’s frequent claims that the election will be “rigged” against him and his calls for supporters to monitor polls in large cities. (True the Vote has itself alleged that Hillary Clinton could “steal” the election and yesterday echoed Trump in urging its members to look out for “#BadHombres” at the polls.)
In a video posted online in September and sent to supporters today, True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht gives an idea of what sort of things her group is instructing these poll watchers to look for. Promoting the group’s poll-watching app—which was a bust when it launched in the 2014 election—Engelbrecht said that poll watchers this year are sure to find issues such as rigged election machinery, “thugs with night sticks scaring people to keep them from voting” and “polling places [that] stay open for hours past official closing times in an effort to engineer the desired outcome”:
In less than 60 days, our country will head to the polls to choose our next president. And make no mistake, the political operatives and social-justice sycophants who work overtime to keep truth out of the public debate aren’t going to shine up their halos and play nice on election day. I assure you that those same subverters are ready, willing and able to exploit an already weak process. We know what election fraud looks like. We’ve seen thugs with nightsticks scaring people to keep them from voting. We’ve seen polling places stay open for hours past official closing times in an effort to engineer the desired outcome. We’ve seen electronic ballots that block votes for one candidate and instead flip them to their opposition. We’ve seen it all before and this November, we’ll see it all again.
Rigged election machines would certainly constitute election fraud, although there haven’t been many reports about such things taking place. Same with the “thugs with nightsticks” scenario—that’s a reference to the 2008 New Black Panther Party incident in Philadelphia, which became a Fox News obsession but was hardly evidence of widespread voter intimidation.
As for Engelbrecht’s assertion that keeping polling places open late constitutes election fraud, that seems to be a call for her followers to try to stop legitimate instances of polls staying open past the designated closing time because of long lines or other problems that have kept people from casting ballots.
Here’s Engelbrecht’s full video: