The ‘alt-right’ has been a sad and constant presence in this year’s presidential election. Don’t expect that to change when voters go to the polls next Tuesday — according to a Wednesday report in Politico, white supremacists are planning to come out in droves to observe the balloting and make sure that the election is not ‘stolen’ from Donald Trump.
Andrew Anglin, creator of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer blog, wrote Politico in an e-mail that he led “a big voter registration drive” on his Web site, and that he would be “sending an army of Alt-Right nationalists to watch the polls.” He said that he was partnering with the site TheRightStuff.Biz.
According to Politico, an unnamed representative from TheRightStuff.Biz wrote in an e-mail that his organization had placed hidden cameras in schools in inner-city Philadelphia that serve as balloting locations, hoping to catch people voting at multiple locations and prove that the vote tally was being rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
Explaining how the TheRightStuff.Biz placed the cameras, the representative indulged racist tropes.
“Many polling locations are in schools, and black schools are so disorderly that pretty much any official-looking white person with a clipboard can gain access to them ahead of time and set up a hidden camera,” he wrote. “You don’t really ever even have to speak with an adult. Simply walk in like you belong there and no one even asks you why you are there.”
The ‘alt-right’ — a motley coalition of far-right white identity politics — tends to exaggerate its own strength, and the group’s claims were not independently verified.
Aside from Anglin’s initiative, the Oathkeepers, a far-right group of former law enforcement and military officers, and Roger Stone, a Trump confidant, have announced their own plans to conduct poll watching activities.
Mark Potok, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, warned that such activities could spark violence.
“The possibility of violence on or around Election Day is very real,” Mark Potok he told Politico. “Donald Trump has been telling his supporters for weeks and weeks and weeks now that they are about to have the election stolen from them by evil forces on behalf of the elites.”
These efforts have been encouraged directly by Trump, who has repeatedly warned that the election could be stolen in “certain areas” of cities such as Philadelphia — a barely disguised dogwhistle aimed at racial minorities.
“Voter fraud is all too common, and then they criticize us for saying that,” he said at an October rally in Colorado, according to The New York Times. “But take a look at Philadelphia, what’s been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at some of these cities, where you see things happening that are horrendous.”
“I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us,” he said in another rally last month in Pennsylvania, the Times reported. “And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
Voter fraud is almost non-existent, with studies having found that barely two dozen cases of it occurred over the past decade.
For all the bluster, Potok predicted the call to monitor the polls would likely backfire.
“If on the morning of Election Day it turns out that we have white supremacists standing around looking threatening at polling places, I think it would arouse anger,” he said. “People would vote just to prove they’re not being intimidated by these radical racists.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.