The lines at voting booths across the United States should not be a place for fear-mongering. But in the wake of the 2016 campaign cycle, it seems that many voters are questioning the integrity of these spaces.
This is the first presidential election in five decades that is not being conducted under a crucial Voting Rights Act provision that mandated federal oversight of election procedures in places with a history of bias.
This means that state governments do not have to seek federal approval for certain pieces of legislation that deal with voter rights. This is most significant in regards to the Voter ID bills, and the subsequent civil suits filed in the past year. Suits in North Dakota, Utah, South Dakota and Arizona claim that new voting rules passed in these majority-Republican states are discriminatory and could reduce voting by tribal members, who tend to back Democrats. A suit in Alaska, for example, claimed the state violated federal rules by failing to translate voting materials for tribal voters.
Anxiety surrounding the polls comes from both sides of the partisan aisle. According to the New York Times, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to have votes in Nevada impounded on the grounds that poll workers illegally extended early voting hours to accommodate people who were waiting in long lines.
Thousands of Hispanic voters lined up outside polling places to vote last Friday in Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas and has the state’s largest Hispanic population. Record turnout has raised fears among Republicans that they could lose the battleground state and Trump campaign officials have been complaining that the extension of hours in some locations is evidence that the election is rigged.
The lawsuit alleges that the people were allowed to vote illegally because they cast ballots after the published closing times at polling places.
Voter intimidation and voter anxiety seems to be on the rise. According to the Times, voters are taking their concealed-carry weapons into polling stations to prevent ‘election fraud’. This action, although incredibly frightening in its implications, is not illegal in most states. A few states with open-carry laws, including Texas and Georgia, bar guns from polling stations. But in many states, the rules are murkier. In New Hampshire, the attorney general’s office is telling election moderators not to turn away people with guns, even if they are present in schools, where federal law generally prohibits firearms.
Given the often violent rhetoric used during the Trump campaign rallies, it is not a surprise that Mr. Trump’s supporters have taken to these displays of intimidation. Maybe the most poignant comment about this uprise in voter intimidation comes from vervent-Trump supporter Ann Coulter’s twitter account: If only people with at least 4 grandparents born in America were voting, Trump would win in a 50-state landslide.
Yes indeed Ms. Coulter, if only those people were voting, then Mr. Trump— whose mother is a Scottish immigrant— would not have been able to vote for himself.