White nationalist and militia groups are stoking fears of voter intimidation efforts on Election Day as they pledge to send dozens of undercover poll watchers to majority-minority neighborhoods to document voter activity.
Though their plans may just be bluster, elections officials in battleground states like Pennsylvania are taking no chances.
“There really will be no tolerance for that,” Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office, told TPM on Wednesday. “We’re getting out a lot of messages about how people can report incidents at polling places.”
Andrew Anglin, the founder of neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, told Politico that he is partnering with alt-right website The Right Stuff to send “an army of Alt-Right nationalists to watch the polls” in cities like Philadelphia.
A representative from The Right Stuff told Politico that their efforts included installing hidden cameras at polling sites in “disorderly” black schools and “going in to the ghettos in Philadelphia with 40s and weed to give out to the local residents” in an effort to keep voters home.
The Philadelphia City Commissioners’ Office did not immediately respond Wednesday to TPM’s requests for comment.
While Anglin’s and The Right Stuff representative’s outlandish claims can’t be verified, a slew of other far-right groups, including the white nationalist American Freedom Party, the Oath Keepers and Vote Protectors, a site affiliated with longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone, have announced their own poll-watching efforts.
Trump has for weeks warned voters in Pennsylvania to head to the polls in “certain areas” on Election Day to monitor the goings-on as well.
The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office reminded voters in an Oct. 20 press release that “conspiring with others to deprive a voter of his or her right to vote” can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Examples of voter intimidation include “aggressive behavior inside or outside the polling place,” “photographing or videotaping voters to intimidate them,” and “poll watchers confronting, hovering or directly speaking to voters,” among many others. Intimidation can result in a $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison.