By Patrick Donachie
The real concern in the upcoming presidential election is not the specter of voter fraud, often alluded to by Republican nominee Donald Trump in his warnings about a “rigged” election, according to Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest). In fact, he contended that voter suppression will be the greatest threat come Election Day.
Lancman joined with other elected officials, including Councilman Costa Constantindes (D-Astoria) and the New York Democratic Lawyers Council on the steps of City Hall Monday to criticize voter intimidation in swing states throughout the country as well as in swing districts in New York state.
“Every American citizen who wants to vote deserves the right to cast their ballot free of intimidation and needless obstacles. It’s crucial to protect the vote, especially in places where it is most threatened, since black and Latino voters are disproportionately impacted by these laws,” Lancman said. “Together we’re going to ensure that casting a ballot on Election Day is just as easy and exciting as it’s supposed to be.”
Lancman and others are concerned about attempts by state legislatures to disqualify potential voters as well as potential intimidation from Trump supporters. In recent weeks, the presidential candidate has continued to talk about the possibility of a rigged election that would deliver a victory to his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In response to these claims, Trump has suggested that his supporters monitor polls to keep track of potential voter fraud.
In a speech on Oct. 10, Trump asked his supporters to “watch other communities” in order to stop voter fraud from occurring. On his website, supporters can also sign up to be a “Trump Election Observer” to monitor poll stations.
Critics of Trump’s rhetoric assert he is trying to suppress the vote in communities that polls indicate will vote against him by significant margins, including communities of color. Jarret Berg, the executive director of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, said voter rights were also being impugned by legal precedents that critics maintain target specific demographics.
“Those who care about election integrity should be alarmed that 20 states since 2010 have enacted laws that make it more difficult for certain groups of perfectly eligible Americans to vote,” he said. “Voter protection is a great way for lawyers and others to help guarantee that elections are fair and our core civil rights are not infringed.”
Lancman plans to travel to Philadelphia during the election to monitor potential cases of voter suppression, according to his office.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona