Donald Trump’s escalating effort to undermine the presidential election as “rigged” has alarmed government officials administering the vote as well as Democratic and Republican leaders, who are anxiously preparing for the possibility of unrest or even violence on Election Day and for an extended battle over the integrity of the outcome. Hillary Clinton’s advisers are privately worried that Trump’s calls for his supporters to stand watch at polling places in cities such as Philadelphia for any hint of fraud will result in intimidation tactics that might threaten her supporters and suppress the votes of African Americans and other minorities. The Democratic nominee’s campaign is recruiting and training hundreds of lawyers to fan out across the country, protecting people’s right to vote and documenting any signs of foul play, according to several people with knowledge of the plans. “I’m very concerned about this rhetoric,” said former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter (D), a Clinton supporter. “All Donald Trump is doing with these outrageous, false scare tactics is to try to diminish voter interest and suppress voter turnout.”
Election officials, including Republican secretaries of state, were also rushing to repudiate Trump’s unsubstantiated claim Monday that fraudulent activity is already underway.
“Any time that your comments draw into question the legitimacy of the elections process, they have crossed the line,” said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who supports Trump. “Particularly if you can’t back it up with evidence.”
Trump’s extraordinary attempt to challenge the integrity of the well-regarded U.S. election system comes amid his steep drop in the polls as allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances against multiple women have piled up. Trump denies the allegations and has cast them as part of a far-reaching global conspiracy by Clinton and the media working in concert to defeat him.