Updated: Nov 3
Donald Trump and his Republican supporters are using every scare tactic possible to intimidate voters who are unlikely to vote for him, while at the same time turning to the courts to challenge individual votes and election results across the nation.
They are turning what should be a celebratory exercise of democracy into an election of fear, one that if successful could result in totalitarian Trump rule for the next four years.
Federal Enforcers Deployed
Today, on Election Day Eve, the U.S. Justice Department, led by Trump's attorney general, William P Barr, announced it is sending federal monitors to 44 jurisdictions in 18 states.
“Federal law entrusts the Civil Rights Division with protecting the right to vote for all Americans,” said Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”
That is a wolf in sheep's clothing. DOJ will continue its historical mission to ensure that everyone can freely exercise the most fundamental American right -- the right to vote.
But DOJ is targeting communities with large Black populations and historically high-performing Democratic counties.
Two Democratic state senators from South Carolina called them out for this duplicitous initiative:
"This is a blatant and despicable effort by Donald Trump and Bill Barr to use federal power to intimidate Black and minority voters," said Sens. Dick Harpootlian and Darrell Jackson. "It will not work. Any federal agent or lawyer who participates in this overt and transparent act of voter suppression is betraying their oath to the Constitution and will bring shame to themselves and the institutions they serve by acting like a bunch of brownshirt jack-booted thugs."
In his announcement, Dreiband said, "As in past years, monitors will focus on compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and the other federal voting rights laws enforced by the division. Monitors will include civil rights personnel from the Civil Rights Division and civil rights and civil personnel from U.S. Attorney’s Offices. Civil Rights Division personnel will also maintain contact with state and local election officials."
As the New York Times reported,
On social media and right-wing news sites and in the presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Trump and his campaign quickly suggested nefarious intent in the actions of local election officials, with the president claiming during the debate that “bad things happen in Philadelphia” and urging his supporters everywhere to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” Philadelphia County is one of the areas to be targeted by the feds.
Using the Courts
In his spate of rallies in battleground states over the past few days, Trump has said he'll send his lawyers into court as soon as the election ends Tuesday to attack the legitimacy of this week's unprecedented early voting, which has seen nearly 100 million people already casting their ballots, according to NBC News.
Prominent Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg, in an article published by The Washington Post yesterday entitled "My party is destroying itself on the altar of Trump," wrote this:
Trump has enlisted a compliant Republican Party in this shameful effort. The Trump campaign and Republican entities engaged in more than 40 voting and ballot court cases around the country this year. In exactly none — zero — are they trying to make it easier for citizens to vote. In many, they are seeking to erect barriers.
All of the suits include the mythical fraud claim. Many are efforts to disqualify absentee ballots, which have surged in the pandemic. The grounds range from supposedly inadequate signature matches to burdensome witness requirements. Others concern excluding absentee ballots postmarked on Election Day but received later, as permitted under state deadlines. Voter-convenience devices such as drop boxes and curbside voting have been attacked....
...This attempted disenfranchisement of voters cannot be justified by the unproven Republican dogma about widespread fraud. Challenging voters at the polls or disputing the legitimacy of mail-in ballots isn't about fraud. Rather than producing conservative policies that appeal to suburban women, young voters or racial minorities, Republicans are trying to exclude their votes.
Polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a large lead among early voters in key states, while Trump maintains a significant advantage among those who have yet to vote. He complained that Supreme Court rulings allowed for Pennsylvania and North Carolina to count absentee ballots that are postmarked before Election Day but arrive shortly after Tuesday.
Stacking the Deck
Of course, it is a fact that Trump installed a new postmaster general who has deliberately sought to slow down mail delivery, even as Trump has complained about the legitimacy of mail-in voting and has constantly issued warnings of fraud.
It is also a fact that he has just added a new conservative justice to the Supreme Court, and no doubt is counting on her to help save his presidency if it comes to that.
Meanwhile, Trump has mobilized his legions of intimidating supporters to do everything they can to scare off unfriendly voters, with horn-honking flag waving caravans among the tactics being used.
In one incident, Trump supporters in pickups and SUVs surrounded a Biden bus on a Texas interstate, resulting in a sideswipe and near collision, according to a YouTube video. The FBI has confirmed it is investigating that incident.
Will these desperate actions by Trump, his administration, and his supporters succeed?
Will he manage to steal the election and subject America to another four years that can only get worse from the actions of an emboldened despot?
We will know soon enough. There is a lot at stake.