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:
League of United Latin American Citizens
According to Bloomberg, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) along with League of Women Voters and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are training poll watchers to protect voters. “Poll watchers left unchecked may unfairly target minority voters,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Civil Right Under Law. “It creates the potential for a lot of mischief, chaos, and disruption on Election Day.”
Officials have tried to keep people of color from voting by reducing the number of polls in predominantly Latino and black neighborhood. Warren Buffett set up Drive2Vote to take people to and from polls. “To vote, you need to be present,” the site reads. “If you need a ride to the polls, ask me. Either I or one of my friends who pledges on this site, will get you to the polls.” Other organizations like Women Votes are offering similar services.
Congressional Voting Rights Caucus
The 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision did away with requiring all governments with a history of voter discrimination to get approval before making any changes to their voting laws. As a result, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus joined forces to form the Voting Rights Caucus. According to its mission statement, “The goal of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus is to educate the public on the current voter suppression tactics in place in their home states, districts, and counties, inform constituencies on their rights as voters, and to create and advance legislation that blocks current and future suppressive and discriminatory tactics that deny American citizens the sacred right to vote.”
While there’s conflicting reports on how many people Voter ID laws actually target and what kind of impact they have on elections, Vote Riders wants everyone to go into Election Day knowing exactly what they will need. That’s why the organization made wallet-sized cards for every state that lists all forms of acceptable IDs, as well as what other documents a voter needs to present. On the back of the card, the group urges people to call them for more voter ID assistance – making it a necessary tool come Election Day.