Politics

Trump Urges Supporters To Be Poll Watchers As He Ramps Up Unfounded Voter Fraud Claims

The president has escalated his attacks on legitimate voting methods as he vies for re-election.

President Trump has repeatedly urged his supporters to be poll watchers, in an apparent attempt to stoke fears about his illegitimate claims that Democrats will commit voter fraud only weeks ahead of the election.

In a Wednesday tweet, the president called for supporters to become “Trump Election Poll Watchers,” while urging them sign up via the ominously-named website armyfortrump.com. On the website are volunteer opportunities for Trump’s re-election, including knocking on doors, becoming a digital activist, and making calls to voters in battleground states via a tool called Trump Talk. 

“We all know the Democrats will be up to their old dirty tricks on Election Day to make sure that President Trump cannot win,” says an unnamed supporter in a promotional video on the site. “That is why our goal is to cover every polling place in the country with people like you.” 

On Tuesday, Trump encouraged the crowd at a North Carolina campaign rally (many of whom were seen without face coverings) to be watchful of “thieving, and stealing and robbing” at the November election. 

"Gotta be careful with those ballots. Watch those ballots. I don't like it. You know, you have a Democrat governor, you have all these Democrats watching that stuff. I don't like it," Trump said at the Winston-Salem rally. "Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do. Because this is important. We win North Carolina, we win."

CNN has also reported that Trump’s campaign is working to send thousands of election monitors to battleground states — leading Democrats and voting-rights groups to decry that Republicans will strategize to suppress voting in key states.

The president has also suggested sending law enforcement members to monitor the polls, CNN reported, but “federal law bars the deployment of armed federal officials to the vicinity of polling places.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, political parties, candidates and ballot issue committees already appoint poll watchers for elections in most states. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, federal law also prohibits voter intimidation.

In recent months, Trump has frequently attacked mail-in voting and made unsubstantiated claims that the method would make it easier to commit fraud. He has also admitted that he’s blocking funding to the U.S. Postal Service to sabotage mail-in voting. 

But the president has been making false claims about voter fraud since he was elected in 2016, and has asserted without evidence that he lost the popular vote to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because “millions” of fraudulent ballots were cast. Clinton beat Trump by almost three million votes, according to an independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has expressed skepticism about the voting process in North Carolina. Last week, Trump effectively told reporters that voters can cast their ballots twice (which election officials in Michigan and North Carolina then reminded voters is illegal).