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Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Will Trump's voter suppression tactics cross the Atlantic

As I write it is just over three and a half hours until the first American polling places open on what could be an historic (or disastrous) day for democracy. 

The Mirror is not wrong when they say that Trump is plotting the dirtiest US election fight in American history. Already we have seen voter suppression attempts across the country on an unprecedented scale and intimidation of voters and campaigners, while the President himself is said to be preparing to declare victory and cling to power irrespective of the outcome.

The paper refers to reports suggesting the President is preparing to falsely claim that postal ballots counted after today’s election are evidence of election fraud, adding that Trump is said to have planned several weeks ago to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won:

The move would set up widespread chaos fuelling unrest by his supporters if it is later seen Democratic rival Joe Biden had actually won.

Trump denied the reports but threatened to deploy his team of lawyers to challenge the results.

“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” he said.

“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election.

“I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.”

He added: “I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election.”

Trump has openly attacked Supreme Court rulings which allow states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina to count ballots that are postmarked before Election Day but arrive shortly after Tuesday.

Trump called it a “very dangerous decision for our country”.

He added: “You’re going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they’re tabulating ballots, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there’s great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place.”

Yesterday on the final day of the campaign, Trump continued to ramp up the uncertainty of possible unrest as he celebrated his supporters for using pickup trucks to ambush a Biden campaign bus.

He disputed a report the FBI is investigating his supporters accused of harassing the bus as it drove through Texas despite a public statement by the bureau. In a statement, the FBI said: “FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating.”

The whole scenario would not look out of place in a banana republic, but to what extent might these tactics filter across the Atlantic? We are already seeing Tory attempts at voter suppression here with their legislation to require ID at polling stations. If democracy falls in the United States, will it endanger our rights elsewhere as well?

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