In a campaign already defined by outlandish – and sometimes flat out deceitful – claims, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is now endangering non-white voters. Time and again, Trump has made unsubstantiated claims about this year’s presidential election being rigged. On Monday, he tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
However, as President Barack Obama reiterated Tuesday, voter fraud – which encompasses everything from casting more than one vote to impersonating someone else – is rare. “Voter fraud is not a significant problem in this country,” Brennan Center’s Jennifer Clark said, according to NBC News. “As the evidence that has come out in some recent court cases and reports and basically every analysis that has ever been done has concluded: It is not a significant concern.”
Instead, what we do have is a history of voter suppression. A group has accused Mike Pence – Trump’s running mate and the governor of Indiana – of allowing voter suppression to happen in his state. Recently, Indiana State Police raided a voter registration office aimed at turning out the African-American vote. Police took computers, cellphones, and records, according to the Washington Post. Authorities claim that they have found “at least 10” fraudulent applications. But Craig Varona – director of liberal advocacy group Patriot Majority USA – worries that this could end up affecting as many as 45,000 people’s ability to vote.
And while only time will tell whether this actually actually qualifies as voter suppression, it’s important to report because people of color have often been on the receiving end of these practices. As a matter of fact, Mother Jones highlighted a few of the tactics that are used even today to try to sway elections, which include felon disenfranchisement and voter purges.
As many have noted, Trump is treading into dangerous territory with his claims of voter fraud. On Tuesday, he continued to spread this message. “Voter fraud is all too common, and then they criticize us for saying that,” he said during a Colorado Springs rally, the New York Times reports. “But take a look at Philadelphia, what’s been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at some of those cities, where you see things happening that are horrendous.”
Trump’s words are sparking fears of possible voter intimidation – something that is illegal. 61-year-old carpenter Steve Webb told the Boston Globe that he plans to head to his Ohio poll to look for suspicious activity. “I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling,” he said. “Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
The New York Times found no evidence that there’s been a surge in people who want to serve as poll watchers on Election Day. Nevertheless, some still fear that Trump’s supporters will show up at polls in groups to intimidate voters. That’s why organizations are gearing up to protect the most vulnerable at polls. Here are a few groups fighting voter suppression: