Trump incorrectly claims ‘poll watchers’ from observing early polling places in Philadelphia

While the president’s claim based on current law was erroneous, his statement in the first presidential debate is illegal in his campaign and the national Republican Party’s head of the battlefield – “poll watchers” are not allowed to observe the vote Where absentee and mail ballots are being cast, as those places do not constitute polling places.

“I am urging my supporters to go to the polls and watch very carefully because that is what is going to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they were in. Gone. The clock, they were – they’re called pole watchers. A very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They were allowed to watch. You know why? Because the bad stuff in Philadelphia Happen. Bad things happen, “Trump said. During the final minutes of the debate, hours later he tweeted a Similar claim, Was the cause of “corruption”.

But city officials said no law was broken.

“We are working to make the plan safe and secure,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney of the Democrats said Wednesday. “The President of the United States has requested supporters to go to polling places. I mean, this has never happened before.”

Kenny said that while certified voters are legal on election day, “just going to a polling place and milling around and calling people’s names – it’s against the law.”

“Any additional efforts to keep people away from voting are illegal and will be dealt with as such,” he said.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford reacted to the president’s statement on Twitter, saying that while he was urging his supporters to “look very carefully” at polling places, he “didn’t talk about watching the election” Was doing”.

“He was talking about voter intimidation,” Ford tweeted. “Voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Trust me when I say: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”

Tuesday marked the first day of early voting in Philadelphia, the state’s largest city and the state’s largest democratic center. After a claim by Mike Roman, an employee of the Trump campaign, tweeted a few hours earlier, the president extended the false claim to his one million Twitter followers.

But his tweet, and later statements during the debate, were inaccurate on two fronts: Pole watcher certificates have not been issued for early voting for anyone, including the Trump campaign; This early-man turnout occurs only at satellite election offices, which are not polling places, according to Nick Dip, president of the Philadelphia City Commissioner, Lisa DeLay.

At these satellite locations, Philadelphians can register to vote, request mail ballots, fill them on site, and submit them to clerks in one visit.

Unless voters are on site to use the services, they are not allowed inside, Custodio said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “We don’t give anyone a pole watcher certificate … see someone fill a ballot on their kitchen table.”

Authorities are limiting the number of people in election offices due to the epidemic.

“This is particularly important in the current environment as the city’s buildings and offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19,” he said in the statement.

In a call with ABC News, Custodio insisted that it was “not a partisan thing.”

“The same rules apply to everyone, as well as the general public,” he said. “Only those who are to avail the services of the office are able to enter the area.”

In July, the Trump campaign and the RNC filed a statewide lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s top election official, Secretary of State Kathy Bokover, and all 67 counties.

Under the state election law, candidates are allowed to appoint two polling personnel and political parties are allowed to appoint three, per miscreants, who are allowed to supervise voting inside polling places, but Also, the qualifications of the voters are challenged. Poll watchers must register to vote in the county where the trend they are viewing is located.

In the complaint, the Trump campaign and the RNC not only alleged that the requirement of a pole watcher residency is unconstitutional, but also that the sites that do not have mail-in and absentee voting are classified as well as polling places. And it becomes “a critical situation”. Threat to credibility and integrity in Pennsylvania elections, and confidence in the public. ”

The Trump campaign lawsuit, which challenged other state election practices, has been withheld by the federal court until Oct. 5 to give time to the state court system to weigh in, and before that in September, in a lawsuit brought into. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said – the requirement of an election observer was constitutional, citing the fact that elections are county-run.

The ruling, however, did not address the issue of whether these non-voting pre-voting locations should be considered polling places and allow election observers.

For the past four decades, the RNC was limited to its ability to engage in what it calls a “ballet security” operation, but critics such as the Democratic Party have judged it as voter suppression. The party signed in 1982 agreed to terminate in 2018, and the party would no longer have to seek prior court approval for these actions.

“The lack of this check, therefore, means that no one is looking in advance to ensure that these operations are not targeting voters in a discriminatory manner or set in a way that scares the voter “Poses a real threat,” Wendy Weiser, vice president of the nonparison think tank The Brennan Center, told ABC News on Wednesday. “There is concern, without concern that there is not an effective mechanism to prevent this in advance.”

Wenser, and others at the Brennan Center, are advocates for parties intervening in the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania lawsuit. The reason for joining, Weiser said, was primarily on a campaign challenging the use of safe ballot drop boxes, and out of concern over “radical legal claims” that the campaign and the RNC are beyond just poll watchers , “Bigots at a disadvantage for voting rights and for election administration” if accepted by the courts.

RNC Chairman Roma McDaniel wrote in an August op-ed in The Washington Post that with the end of the consent decree, Republicans and Democrats are again on an equal playing field.

“Democrats are deploying ‘an army of pole watchers’ this November, and for the first time in decades the Republican Party can also,” he wrote. “Although Democrats say they want to retain the RNC under this consent decree because Republicans will threaten voters at polling places, it is clear that they want to maintain a court-imposed footing on Republicans.”

McDaniel said the answer to what Democratic critics have said is, “Our reach is more about voting than people, not less. This contradicts Democrats’ claims of ‘voter suppression’.”

But Weisser said the concern with election watchers is when they are beyond oversight, and actually “interfere” or disrupt the voting process, and the RNC has a history.

“The fear is that in places like Pennsylvania, some people are trying to mobilize,” Weser said.

Weisser, however, said voters should not panic.

He said that most courts have a set of procedures for what election workers and election officials do, to de-escalate and prevent such disruptions when they occur. “There is still a set of officers, whose job is to ensure that every eligible voter can vote and to ensure that voting and voting are accessible.”

ABC News’ Kendall Karson and Elizabeth Thomas contributed reporting.


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