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Trump Campaign Recruiting Voter Suppression ‘Army’ Across States

Eight state Republican parties are actively recruiting for Donald Trump's 2020 Election Day voter suppression efforts.

Trump's reelection campaign and its allies are aiming to recruit up to 50,000 volunteers to challenge any votes and voters they deem suspicious in targeted states, as the New York Times reported recently. This is part of a $20 million effort to undermine voting rights and make it difficult to participate in the November election.

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Justice Department To Monitor Election In 28 States

By Julia Harte

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Personnel from the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division will be deployed to polling sites in 28 states to monitor Tuesday’s election, five more than it monitored in the 2012 election, the department said on Monday.

Most of those states will receive Justice Department staff who have no statutory authority to access polling sites as a result of a 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, curtailing the department’s ability to deploy election observers with unfettered access to the polls.

More than 500 Justice Department personnel will be deployed on Tuesday, compared to more than 780 personnel the department dispatched during the 2012 general election. A Justice Department spokesman declined to say how many of Tuesday’s personnel will be full-access observers.

Tuesday’s hotly contested election, including the presidential race pitting Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton, will be the first in decades in which the Justice Department can only send full-access observers to states where a federal court ruling has authorized it.

On the campaign trail, Trump has warned the election may be rigged and has called on supporters to keep an eye on voting activity for possible signs of fraud in large cities. Numerous studies have found that U.S. voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

“As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement.

Courts have granted the Justice Department permission to deploy full-access observers in five states: Alaska, California, Louisiana, New York, and Alabama. But the court order for Alabama only pertains to municipal elections and it is not on the list of states where the Justice Department is deploying poll watchers this year.

The Justice Department staff who are deployed to the other 24 states on Tuesday will be election “monitors”, who must rely on local and state authorities to grant them access to polling locations.

“In most cases, voters on the ground will see very little practical difference between monitors and observers,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s civil rights division, in a statement.

(Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Will Dunham and Alistair Bell)

IMAGE: Voters cast their ballots during the U.S. presidential election at Public School P.S. 56 in the Manhattan borough of New York, USA November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

U.S. Court Denies Republican Poll Monitor Request In Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a blow to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a U.S. judge on Thursday upheld a Pennsylvania state law that could make it difficult for his supporters to monitor Election Day activity in Democratic-leaning areas.

Trump has repeatedly said that the Nov. 8 presidential election may be rigged, and has urged supporters to keep an eye out for signs of voting fraud in Philadelphia and other heavily Democratic areas.

Democrats worry that could encourage Trump supporters to harass Hispanics, African-Americans and other minority voters in a state that could determine whether Trump or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency.

Trump faces a significant hurdle in Pennsylvania because state law requires partisan poll watchers to perform their duties in the county in which they are registered to vote.

That could make it difficult to recruit monitors in places like Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of eight to one. The city has 120,000 registered Republicans and 1,685 voting locations.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party sought to suspend that requirement so that poll monitors could come from anywhere in the state, which would enable them to bring in supporters from suburban and rural areas where Trump has stronger support.

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert denied the request, writing that it would be too disruptive to change the law less than a week before Tuesday’s vote.

“Were the Court to enter the requested injunction, poll watchers would be allowed to roam the Commonwealth on election day for the first time in the Election Code’s seventy-nine year history – giving the Commonwealth and county election officials all of five days’ notice to prepare for the change,” he wrote.

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters through a bullhorn during a campaign stop at the Canfield County Fair in Canfield, Ohio, U.S., September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Why North Carolina Democrats Would Never Bomb Orange County GOP Office

What makes this Orange County, North Carolina firebombing all the more suspicious — aside from the fact that the Orange County GOP is non-existent in elections — is the fact that Donald Trump began “tweeting” about the bombing moments within hours after it happened, blaming “Hillary Clinton supporters” and “Democrats” without any shred of evidence. In fact, every single Democrat or Hillary supporter I’ve encountered in North Carolina is gravely concerned about doing everything the law provides to prevent violence in this election.

Trump’s feigned hysteria carries the acrid stench of another famous fire: the one in the German Reichstag, started by the Nazi party of Adolph Hitler during the German national elections of 1933, and then blamed on the Communists. The Reichstag Fire was immediately pounced upon by Nazi leaders as “evidence” of terror from the left, proving the need for the authoritarian rule their leader promised. It was instrumental in leading to the election of Hitler as German Chancellor, despite the lack of any evidence to buttress the Nazis’ wild claims.

Eventually, the facts about this fire-bombing will come out, and justice will be meted out to the perpetrators of the crime. Until then, it’s reasonable to wonder why Democrats would have anything to do with attacking an opposition party headquarters that has been dormant for years.

[In an inspiring postscript to this story, Democrats across the country rallied quickly to a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the immediate restoration and reopening of the firebombed Republican office in Hillsborough, NC. The campaign’s organizers explained “this is not how Americans resolve their differences. We talk, we argue, sometimes we march, and most of all we vote. We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs.” Donors swiftly exceeded its goal, raising over $13,000 in a few hours.]

Steve Villano is a writer with a law degree from Hofstra University Law School who has written a book on the late Mario Cuomo that will be published next spring. He is a Democratic political volunteer in North Carolina and originally posted a version of this article on his blog.

IMAGE: Republican nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar