Donald Trump repeatedly declares that this election has been "rigged" against him and, at Wednesday's debate, announced that he'd leave the country "in suspense" on whether he would accept its outcome on November 8. Yesterday he said he would only accept the results "if I win."
Now the Guardian reports that Trump's grassroots campaign, Citizens for Trump, will deploy 1,300 volunteers to 600 precincts to conduct their own exit poll in nine cities in controversial swing states — including Florida. That means on election day, expect a gaggle of Trump supporters posted outside voting precincts across Fort Lauderdale asking residents whom they voted for. It's a move that critics say is less about fact-checking democracy than inspiring fear among minority voters.
“It sounds like he’s organizing a goon squad that could potentially be intimidating voters in minority areas,” Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, told the Guardian. “It does raise the threat of violence on election day at polling places. People are going to have to be vigilant.”
In addition to Fort Lauderdale, volunteers from Citizens for Trump will be exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Richmond, and Fayetteville. All nine cities are Democratic-leaning, have large minority populations, and are located in key swing states.
Typically, exit polls are conducted by nonpartisan media organizations. Political campaigns conduct exit polling too, but typically in bellwether states and precincts. Broward has approximately 580,000 registered Democrats, more than any other county in Florida. (In the past, exit polls have been criticized for being inaccurate because voters might not disclose to pollsters who they actually voted for, and especially in this election, voters might not want to reveal voting for either candidate.)
The Broward Supervisor of Elections did not return a message seeking comment about the allegations of voter fraud. But it wouldn't be the first time the office faced such accusations.
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In June, the American Rights Union, a conservative group, says census data proves more people are eligible to vote in Broward County this November than are currently alive. They sued Broward supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes in federal district court for violating section 8 of the National Voting Rights Act. They accuse her of not doing enough to ensure that dead people, those who have moved, and noncitizens are taken off the voter rolls.
In August, Robin Haines Merrill, a Tim Canova supporter and owner of the Upper Room Art Gallery in Riverfront, exposed the struggle to find redrawn district maps before the primary election. Tim Canova ultimately lost the election to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But after Trump's election-rigging allegations, Canova tweeted earlier this week: "Results of my primary vs @DWStweets are "mathematically improbable." Manipulated?" It has since been retweeted hundreds of times.
Roger Stone and other Trump supporters argue that it is un-American not to challenge the election if there are signs of rigging. But it seems that as Donald Trump plummets in the polls, this is one sad and desperate attempt to undermine the electoral process before most Americans even cast their votes.