Voter advocates hoping to stave off intimidation at polls

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Voting rights advocates and state officials are on high alert over fears that U.S. polling stations could attract the same strain of partisan violence and civil unrest that erupted on American streets this year, fueled by a deadly pandemic, outrage over police brutality and one of the most contentious elections ever. and other armed civilians have flocked to protests against racial injustice and COVID-19 lockdowns. Paramilitary group members are accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor before the election. President Donald Trump encouraged one far-right extremist group to “stand back and stand by” and called for an army of “poll watchers” to keep tabs on polling places. While gun rights advocates say fears of violence at the polls are unfounded, the toxic political atmosphere and the prospect of armed poll monitors have some worried it will keep voters from the polls and affect the election. “Just as an American, the fact that we’re having this conversation is absolutely terrifying to me,” said American University professor Kurt Braddock, who researches extremist groups. “It’s a testament to how far the extreme right has come with getting into this conversation and impacting the way that politics get done here.” Trump has called for an army of “poll watchers” to go to the polls and “watch carefully.” Monitoring the votes at polling places is allowed in most states, but rules vary and it’s not a free-for-all. States have established rules, in part, to avoid any hint that observers will […]

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