November 02, 2016
Online communities of white nationalists and other alt-right groups are advertising plans to suppress voter turnout in Philadelphia next Tuesday, according to a Wednesday report in Politico.
Their proposed tactics include handing out liquor and marijuana on Election Day, hidden cameras and rogue poll watchers, according to the website.
Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll-watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website “the Right Stuff” are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign.
The report comes after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's repeated claims that the election is rigged and calls for his supporters to watch the polls in urban areas like Philadelphia that are largely black and mainly Democratic. While Trump's requests have been awfully vague, poll watchers are volunteers who are governed by a strict set of rules and regulations.
Pennsylvania's Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit in October in an attempt to relax some of those rules, specifically the requirement that limits poll watchers to serve in the county in which they're registered to vote.
Despite those laws, Politico.com's report claims some of the groups plan to conduct their own Election Day monitoring. A representative of the website RightStuffBiz.com wrote in an email obtained by Politico.com that the surveillance includes hidden cameras in Philly:
“We are organizing poll watchers in urban areas to cut down on the most traditional type of voter fraud. We also will have stationary cameras hidden at polling locations in Philadelphia, to monitor anyone that comes in to vote and make sure that the same people are not voting at multiple locations. If we see people voting in multiple locations the footage will be submitted to the FEC as well as put out on social media to undermine the legitimacy of Clinton should she steal the election.”
Trump supports his claim about a rigged election with allegations of voter fraud in Philly and elsewhere. Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, has said that while voter fraud does exist, it is neither systematic nor widespread. The claim that voter fraud is rampant in the city has been widely debunked.
The Pennsylvania Department of State has reminded voters to be aware of their rights at the polls on Nov. 8, including the right not to be intimidated or harassed. Voters who face problems at the polls can contact the state department at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3662) or the U.S. Department of Justice’s Voting Section at 1-800-253-3931.