Days ago when Junior (possibly stoned) posted an inexplicably gonzo Trump campaign ad (below), it was already clear that Trump was ready to use mob tactics to disrupt the election.
Kevin Drum observes at Mother Jones:
It’s 1981 all over again. Trump Jr. is recruiting “an army” to provide “election security,” and I think everyone with more than a room temperature IQ knows what that means. It means descending in force on polling places in Black neighborhoods and trying to scare people into staying away. This is what Republicans routinely did until a judge stopped them, and it’s what they’re going to do again now that a judge has removed the leash. Apparently 40 years wasn’t enough.
For those not familiar with what happened in 1981, here is a little primer.
With the 1982 consent decree finally lifted, Republicans are throwing their ballot security machine back into high gear just as their presidential candidate prepares to throw sand into the gears of democracy.
Tuesday in Philadelphia was just a taste:
For those needing reminding, here is who Mike Roman is (from ProPublica):
Mike Roman, who led the surveillance and intelligence-gathering unit for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch before it was disbanded in April 2016, is best known for promoting a video showing members of the New Black Panthers allegedly intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. That controversial video of two men yelling racial slurs led to infighting and political recriminations inside the Justice Department and became a flash point for conservative media.
The incident in question involves one of Junior’s Army for Trump’s paid volunteers the Inquirer’s Ellie Rushing tried to interview:
To be clear, there are no polling places open in Philadelphia yet, just satellite elections offices. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains:
The Trump campaign has no poll watchers approved to work in Philadelphia at the moment. There are no actual polling places open in the city right now. And elections officials are following coronavirus safety regulations such as those limiting the number of people indoors.
It’s true that voters were casting ballots Tuesday, but the locations where they were doing so are satellite elections offices where mail ballots can be requested, completed, and submitted. Poll watchers don’t have the same rights at such locations as they do at traditional polling places on Election Day, officials said.
“We don’t give someone a poll watcher certificate to… watch somebody fill out their ballot at their kitchen table,” said Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of the city commissioners who run elections.
Catch that? Poll watcher certificate required. That ID is issued by the Board of Elections to people designated as poll observers by the local party. A small number are allowed inside at one time.
What this incident suggests is Trump’s army of unschooled goons will believe they can simply march into any polling place like it’s Comet Ping Pong, uncredentialled, on his campaign’s say-so or because they volunteered online, to save the election for their cult leader. Trump is essentially sending them in to get ejected or arrested so he can use it to “prove” mischief is going on and his people are persecuted. If widespread, this could be, you know, bad.
But wait! There’s more!
Here in North Carolina, election officials began counting absentee ballots Tuesday night. And guess what?
“The Trump campaign sent a letter to all Republicans on county election boards, urging them to disregard new state guidelines for absentee-by-mail ballots,” reports WRAL.
Election boards are under instructions to ignore any “instructions” offered by political parties. The point may not be to get Republicans to openly defy state law. But their leader is letting them know what will and will not please him. And they want to please him.
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