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Election Law Expert Says Trump Is Using Racism to Incite Voter Intimidation


Image of Donald Trump via Shutterstock

Rick Hasen teaches over at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. He’s an election law expert, actually, and he doesn’t like what he’s seeing from this campaign season. Case in point:

For a while now, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been saying that the media, which he claimed is controlled by opponent Hillary Clinton, is helping rig this election. But not only that:

“So important that you get out and vote,” he said during a rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. “So important that you watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us. We don’t want this election stolen from us. We do not want this election stolen.”

And at another rally in Wilke-Barre, Pennsylvania:

“We have to make sure the people of Philadelphia are protected that the vote counts are 100 percent,” he said. “Everybody wants that, but I hear these horror shows. 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. And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has argued that such statements are racially charged, meant to take advantage of anti-black racism.

In any case, Trump is carrying on with the “rigged” idea with the Saturday morning tweet.

Not Good, Hasen responded in a blog post. He said Trump is using racist sentiment to cause voter intimidation and reduce faith in the electoral process.

Trump has been making these statements for months, essentially claiming without any credible evidence whatsoever that racial minorities and labor unions in Democratic areas like Philadelphia will use voter impersonation. Trump’s comments are a natural outgrowth of the kind of voter fraud hysteria we’ve seen from some Republicans for the last decade and a half.

Trump’s comments are especially dangerous because he is encouraging his supporters to take matters into their own hands. He’s telling his supporters to go to “certain areas” looking for fraud at the polls. This means a real risk of voter intimidation even if Trump himself organizes nothing. There will be people in red shirts marching to the polls.

He follows the lead of another law professor, Ned Foley, who went as far as to call out House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell (R-Kentucky) to declare that Trump has already lost.

“They should not be wimps,” Hasen wrote. “They should condemn this rhetoric as dangerous and say that we all, Democrats and Republicans and those of minor or no parties, support the rule of law. We will all accept the results of the election. And Donald Trump’s comments are dangerous and irresponsible.”

Might this happen? Ryan, despite saying he won’t campaign for Trump anymore, has yet to actively unendorse him, and if he does, he’d pretty much be the last Republican to do so. McConnell continues to essentially back Trump, but he’s reportedly staying out of all the election year struggle.

We’ve reached out to the Trump campaign, and McConnell for their response. Ryan too, though he has commented on Trump’s “rigged” comments.

Update – October 15, 5:45 p.m.: Added statement from Speaker Ryan.

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