In 1968, George Wallace, governor of Alabama and staunch anti-civil rights and anti-voting rights advocate, ran for president as an independent. Fortunately for the country, he lost, but in that year, he was "credited" for launching a campaign designed to result in a repeal of civil rights legislation. In the final tally, he got 13.5% of the vote and 45 electoral votes.
During the crucial days of registration in the deep south (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi), so-called groups of "watchers" were assigned to "make sure nobody cheated" by registering twice or more. These groups were assigned to areas where the population was largely black and first-time registers. The "watchers" were all white, totaling up to 150 in number and gathered around the entries to the registration places. They were believed to be mostly KKK members and white supremacist supporters, although not proven.
These "watchers" continued their tactic of intimidation through election day. By that time, a spattering of complaints were reported, but the local and state governments ignored them. Occasionally, complaints reached beyond the states, but, when the state officials were confronted with the the allegations, they voiced "state control" and "states rights" rhetoric and claimed these men were "poll watchers" to keep the election free from cheaters. The federal government's efforts to remedy the situation were few and ineffectual.
While the actual record of the black vote was not possible at that time, analysts have estimated that the percentage of blacks that voted was in the high single digit to low teens, compared with 37% for whites. The conclusion reached was that a highly significant percentage of the black vote was suppressed by the tactics of these five states.
And here we go again.
Shortly after the Republican convention, Trump intensified his "rigged election" rhetoric. It was first most pronounced in a speech from eastern Pennsylvania, where he said there needed to be safeguards from cheaters in and around "you know where" (meaning Philadelphia). He called for his supporters to become "poll watchers" to prevent cheating.
He has been calling for this ever since, always pointing to democratic areas as potential cheaters. He boasts he has thousands of volunteers to act as "poll watchers". This appears to be a "linchpin" in his plan for victory, to make it "unwise" for Clinton and Independent voters to go to the polls in addition to making the battle of campaigns so disgusting that non-Trump voters will be "turned off" and stay away from voting lest they be "tainted" by the stench.
This, certainly, should give one reason to be concerned.
While nearly all states have restrictions against campaign advertising (including clothing) near polling places (not within 100 ft has been deemed legal by the US Supreme Court), if a group of 100, or even 50, identifying themselves as "Trump" supporters, are gathered near access routes to polling places in a predominately democratic neighborhood, will that not act as intimidation and cause a potential voter to think twice about voting? This, especially since, by now, all are aware of Trump's supporters' penchant for violence and Trump's approval of their intimidation and "acting out".
Add to this (the intention to load polling areas with "poll watchers") the increased rhetoric by Trump to inflame emotions, incite hate and distrust and spread fear that "America will be destroyed" by a Clinton victory, will not anyone (but Trump supporters) wanting to go to the polls be apprehensive that they may be met with or, otherwise encounter, resistance, thus consider staying away?
The time to address this threat is now, not on or near November 8th. "Poll watching", if done by anyone, should be done solely by those registered with official election agencies, NEVER AGAIN by groups of supporters from one candidate.
Using groups from an opposing candidate to "check" such a practice is a formula for violence, so cannot be allowed.
An absolute and total ban against any private person(s) not officially tied to election agencies should be ordered. Additionally, where groups do gather at access points to polling places, they must be ordered to go elsewhere by local police.
The tactics of 1968 cannot be allowed to repeat.