Amid Claims of ‘Rigged’ Election, Trump Starts Volunteer Signup for Polling Patrols
Donald Trump asked a crowd in Altoona, Pennsylvania on Friday, Aug. 12, to help police against voter fraud, and over the weekend his campaign set up a page on his website where volunteers can sign up to be “Trump Election Observers.”
“Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!” reads the website, reiterating a claim by the Republican candidate that the election is rigged in favor of Clinton.
He also claimed that the only way Clinton could win Pennsylvania—a state that has voted Democrat since 1988—is if “cheating goes on” particularly in “certain sections of the state.”
The sections of the state he was most likely referring to are sections of Philadelphia that were reported in a 2012 story by the Philadelphia Enquirer, which alleged that 59 districts in the city didn’t report a single vote for then-Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
The claims were revived by by Fox News Host Sean Hannity earlier this month.
Calling us unpatriotic? 59 districts not one Romney vote. So you are voting for the liar HRC. Did DNC hurt Bernie? https://t.co/Wuf5Sv9nCR
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 7, 2016
The report has since been disputed by fact-checking website PolitiFact and by a Philadelphia election observer who disputed the claims on Twitter.
1. I’m an inspector of elections for a Philly voting division. Independent but was a Republican as recently as June. https://t.co/pd82mOkEKh
— Ryan Godfrey (@rgodfrey) August 7, 2016
This is not the first time that Trump has argued that the election system is rigged. Throughout the primary season, he made a point of saying the election was rigged in the favor of his opponents who were in the graces of the Republican party.
Trump also made a similar argument about the Democratic primary, saying that the election was rigged against Clinton’s challenger Bernie Sanders.
Last week, Trump returned to the theme, telling Hannity that on “November 8, we’d better be careful.”
“And I hope the Republicans are watching closely,” Trump added, “or it’s going to be taken away from us.”
Trump’s call for stricter policing of polling stations has a historical precedent.
In 1981, the Republican National Committee lost a court battle when they tried to enlist a task force of “off-duty sheriffs and police officers” to monitor polling places.
The Democrats sued in 1982 and the court ruling said that the RNC was intending to use the task force “to intimidate voters by standing at polling places in minority precincts during voting” in New Jersey.
The Republicans and Democrats have since agreed to refrain from tactics deemed intimidating, although both parties are allowed—with strict rules—to send polling observers to encourage voters at polling stations.