Spurred on by his irrational fear that the 2016 Presidential Election has been rigged, Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to intimidate people who dare vote against him. During a rally in Manheim, Pennsylvania on October 1, 2016, he urged:
“You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to go out. And you’ve got to get your friends. And you’ve got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania. Certain areas. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about.
“So go and vote, and then go check out areas. Because a lot of bad things happen. And we don’t want to lose for that reason. We don’t want to lose, but we especially we don’t want to lose for that reason. So go over and — watch. And watch carefully.”
Although Trump kept his instructions as vague as he could, on October 24, 2016 The Democratic Coalition Against Trump nonetheless filed complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice, stating that Trump has violated Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which reads:
“No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for exercising any powers or duties under section 3(a), 6, 8, 9, 10, or 12(e).”
If you, the reader, are harassed in any way while casting a ballot on November 8, 2016, you have recourse.
You may be ordered to show identification.
If so, before you go to your local polling place, be sure to check whether or not the state in which you live requires that ID be presented in order to cast a ballot. For example, if you live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, or Wisconsin, you will be absolutely required to present government-issued photographic identification in order to vote.
You may be crowded, harassed or otherwise intimidated, and the person doing that may be armed.
Should that happen, remain calm and remember that you have the right to cast a ballot. Also, be sure to report the person harassing you to the local police, the poll workers on duty, the county election board and/or groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Election Protection Hotline. The national telephone number for the ACLU is 1-877-523-2792, and Election Protection Hotline number is 1-866-687-8683 (1-866-OUR-VOTE).
You may be told that the polls are closing, even though that is not the case.
It is worth it to know polling place hours ahead of time, and it couldn’t hurt to keep official documentation from the registrar of voters listing the hours of your local polling place handy, either in print or bookmarked on your smartphone. More importantly, keep in mind that if you are in line at the time the polling place is closed, you still have the right to vote. According to the law, the voting period ends either when the polling place closes or when the last ballot has been counted – whichever happens first.
You may be given other misleading information about the election, i.e. that your polling place has been moved or that the election has already ended or is on another day.
If this happens, make sure that you look up official information about the election on the internet, talk to a poll worker or call your local Registrar of Voters during their business hours. If you have sufficient reason to believe that somebody is giving you false information about the election in the interest of cheating you out of your right to vote, be sure to contact the Election Protection Hotline using the telephone number above.
Fair use claimed for all images.