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President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday issued strong warnings about the threat of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections, echoing the president’s baseless claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election and prompting accusations that his administration is trying to intimidate voters.
In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.” Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”
In remarks to reporters on his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump also falsely claimed that voter fraud is commonplace.
“Just take a look,” he said. “All you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people — a lot of people — my opinion, and based on proof — that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.”
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States. Trump formed a commission to study the issue shortly after he took office that was disbanded without finding evidence of fraud after states refused to turn over voter data.
Voting rights advocates denounced Trump’s remarks as a blatant attempt to intimidate voters on the eve of Election Day — and part of a pattern among Republicans, they said, to curtail voting access with strict rules that disproportionately affect voters of color who tend to vote Democratic.
“I find this kind of conduct incredibly anti-patriotic,” said Kristen Clarke, who leads the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights group that has successfully challenged several new voting restrictions across the country this year. “At a time when we need our White House and Justice Department speaking out against the relentless campaign of voter suppression in this election cycle, it defies reason.”
Accusations of voter fraud and voter suppression have roared to the forefront in several closely contested races this year, raising the possibility of recounts and disputed results among dozens of races for House, Senate and governor.
Anticipating possible problems at the polls, political parties, interest groups and voting rights organizations have organized “war rooms” to watch Tuesday’s elections unfold and recruited thousands of volunteer lawyers to monitor precincts across the country. In his statement, Sessions said the Justice Department will follow its usual protocol of sending monitors across the country to protect against voter suppression, intimidation and discrimination; this year, staff will travel to 35 jurisdictions in 19 states to monitor compliance with voting laws.
In past years, Justice Department officials have not listed voter fraud as a top concern when announcing the deployment of election monitors, as Sessions did Monday.
“It’s indicative of a pattern with this administration,” said David Vance, a spokesman for Common Cause, a civil rights group that helped recruit 6,500 volunteers to monitor polling locations across the country Tuesday. “It’s an effort to intimidate voters and keep them away from the polls and try to dictate which voters will turn out and which voters won’t. It flies in the face of what the DOJ has done traditionally to protect voters.”
Republicans already whining about why they lost. I wonder what they will do to steal the election after the election?
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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