Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes urged members of his fringe group to head to the polls on Election Day to make sure that the 2016 race is not “stolen” from American voters.
“Operation Sabot 2016” involves sending the current and former military and law enforcement members that make up the organization’s membership to watch and videotape voters casting ballots in order to prevent any instances of “voter fraud.”
“We call on you to form up incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting teams and go out into public on election day, dressed to blend in with the public, without any Oath Keepers hat or T shirt on, and with video, still camera, and notepad in hand, to look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities,” Rhodes wrote on the group’s website.
Though Rhodes instructs poll watchers not to bear arms and to report any alleged instances of fraud to authorities rather than interfering, the group has a troubling track record of intervening in major political events.
Oath Keepers turned out in force during the 2014 standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management, and armed members guarded white businesses in Ferguson, Missouri in the days following the fatal 2014 police shooting of Mike Brown.
On Election Day, Rhodes said in a YouTube video on “Operation Sabot,” poll watchers should go incognito.
“I want to stress to our guys, go without Oath Keeper gear on,” he said. “We don’t want the bad guys to know that we’re out there. We want them to worry about whether they’re being watched.”
Rhodes told his members that “leftists” were the most likely culprits of any fraud.
“We are, indeed, most concerned about expected attempts at voter fraud by leftists, but we will spot, document, and report any apparent attempt at vote fraud or voter intimidation by anyone, of whatever party, as is our duty,” he wrote on the Oath Keepers site.
Donald Trump has urged his supporters to perform similar duties at the polls. A group affiliated with Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone planned an elaborate effort to send volunteers wearing fake ID badges to monitor polling sites and record video of voters.