Election 2020

Senator to DOJ: 'Target Resources' to Protect Philly Voters from White Nationalists

A technician prepares voting machines for use in the presidential election in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A swing-state senator has asked the Justice Department to “target resources” toward a neo-Nazi leader’s promises to dispatch “an army of alt-right nationalists to watch the polls” on Election Day.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was responding to a report in Politico this week, in which Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, made the aforementioned promise and said his efforts were aligned with TheRightStuff.Biz., which told Politico they “are organizing poll watchers in urban areas to cut down on the most traditional type of voter fraud” and “will have stationary cameras hidden at polling locations in Philadelphia, to monitor anyone that comes in to vote and make sure that the same people are not voting at multiple locations.”

“Many polling locations are in schools, and black schools are so disorderly that pretty much any official-looking white person with a clipboard can gain access to them ahead of time and set up a hidden camera. You don’t really ever even have to speak with an adult. Simply walk in like you belong there and no one even asks you why you are there,” a representative from the website said.

In a letter today to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta, who heads the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Casey called on the Justice Department “to provide necessary resources, guidance and support to its U.S. Attorneys and their designated DEOs to assist coordination with county officials and ensure proper enforcement of election monitoring rules that protect every American’s right to vote.”

Casey cited the white nationalists’ plans as well as Trump’s call for supporters in rural areas of Pennsylvania to “go around and watch other polling places” and “watch other communities.”

“In the absence of credible and substantial evidence to support the claim that elections in Philadelphia are subject to widespread fraud, these calls to action are little more than thinly veiled attempts to suppress and delegitimize the votes of predominantly minority citizens, inflected with innuendo that recalls dark times in our country’s civil rights struggle. These calls are more than wrong and irresponsible; if executed, they could be illegal,” the senator continued.

He noted the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners requirements: “Poll Watcher Certificates must be authorized in advance by the candidate or political party to have a certificate issued. All Poll Watchers must be registered voters in Philadelphia.”

“To the extent individuals or teams of individuals come to Philadelphia or other counties where they are not registered to vote and attempt to act as poll watchers, they may be acting in violation of laws protecting voters against intimidation,” Casey added.

“Understanding that the Department of Justice feels limited in its capacity to observe elections in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, I urge the Department to work with U.S. Attorneys, their DEOs and local officials to target resources and support to jurisdictions where voter suppression efforts may unlawfully impede access to the franchise for any American, regardless of race or party affiliation.”

In a statement, Casey said “we have come too far to allow a group of white nationalists to intimidate minority voters in Philadelphia or anywhere throughout the nation.”