Donald Trump continues to warn about a rigged election. He has warned that voting machines may be rigged. Mail-in voting systems may be rigged. Out-of-date voter roles mean dead people have been voting, obviously Democratically and fraudulently. Trump has encouraged his supporters to cast multiple ballots to make sure their vote is counted. One of which did cast multiple ballots and was subsequently arrested because that is voter fraud. And an increasing number of Americans share this belief. According to Gallup, only 66 percent of Americans are very or somewhat confident in the accuracy of the vote count in the United States. This is a decline of 4 percent from just two months ago.
This lack of confidence/increase in fear has resulted in voting paranoia. Simple problems with voting machines which occur every year, the innocuous presence of seeing-eye dogs at a voting location and a class project have all resulted in the reporting of voting fraud, each case of course proven false. But this doesn’t stop Trump-encouraged “poll watchers” from surveying voting locations in multiple states. Democrats have filed nearly a half dozen lawsuits against the Republican presidential nominee and his party about these poll watchers and their efforts, which have been categorized as voter intimidation. And other Trump supporters are actively attempting to disenfranchise voters by creating false ads online which purportedly allow people to vote via text. You cannot vote via text.
Of course no amount of poll watching or assurances from state officials, many Republican, that the voting machines are fine, that no dead people are voting and that the election will not be rigged will satisfy the 41 percent of voters who believe the election could be “stolen” from Trump as the result of widespread voter fraud. These supporters have pledged to protect the sanctity of voting and contest the election results violently if necessary. From Reuters:
“As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“They say they won’t fire the first shot, but they’re not planning to leave their guns at home, either.
“Trump’s populist campaign has energized militia members like [Chris Hill, a paralegal and member of the Three Percent Security Forcewho goes by the code name “Bloodagent”] who admire the Republican mogul’s promise to deport illegal immigrants, stop Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the Mexico border. Trump has repeatedly warned that the election may be “rigged,” and has said he may not respect the results if he does not win. At least one paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, has called on members to monitor voting sites for signs of fraud…
“Many fear Clinton would push the county further to the left.
‘”This is the last chance to save America from ruin,” Hill said. “I’m surprised I was able to survive or suffer through eight years of Obama without literally going insane, but Hillary is going to be more of the same.”‘
“Trump’s candidacy has emboldened extremist groups to speak more openly about challenging the rule of law, said Ryan Lenz, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
‘”Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape. Now these ideas are legitimized.”‘
“Over the past week, some prominent Trump supporters have hinted at violence.
‘”If Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket,”‘ former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter last week. Conservative commentator Wayne Root fantasized about Clinton’s death while speaking at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Sunday.”
This issue of a rigged election may not last beyond November 8th, even if Donald Trump loses. He almost certainly will not be leading a continued call of voter fraud. But as can be seen this issue and concern has been firmly placed in the American electorate. Many of these fraud-believers may view anything short of a Trump victory as a stolen election. Their actions from there are uncertain, especially as there are those who pledge to use the threat of violence to support non-violent protests.
November 9th may end up being nothing except the day after November 8th. Or, given current voter dissatisfaction and suspicion, it could end up being more important.