Donald Trump doesn’t want you to vote. At least, his lack of faith in a US electoral system he calls “rigged” suggests he thinks your vote won’t count. So why bother, right? His allegations of widespread voter fraud are baseless. But that hasn’t stopped him from calling on his supporters to monitor polling places in communities he has deems suspect. That call has led to fears of violence and voter intimidation on Election Day. Trump is none-too-subtle in describing where he thinks election fraud will go down. He told his supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania to go watch voters in “certain places” outside of their own communities, a piercing dog-whistle call to descend on non-white areas that vote heavily Democratic. And some backers have heard the summons. … These promised armies of aggro poll protectors will almost certainly amount to nothing more than a fear-inducing fantasy come Election Day, not least because strict federal and state laws protect voters from intimidation. What is likelier (and scarier) is that a fantasy is all the threat needs to be to hurt voter turnout.
… From the beginning, Trump has shunned the very idea of getting out the vote. His campaign has largely outsourced his get-out-the-vote ground game to the Republican National Committee and state parties. These groups are now facing the choice of whether to stay fully committed to Trump or to tiptoe away from his campaign to protect down-ballot Senate and House candidates. House Speaker Paul Ryan made plain to the members of his party that they should do whatever is best for them. Translation? Dump Trump if he’s hurting them in their local elections. So Trump’s struggle right now is to get voters to the polls to vote for him.
If his campaign is having trouble for that, imagine how much more difficult it’ll be to coordinate an illegal voter intimidation effort. “In terms of an organized effort on the Trump side, it’s not clear that anything is going to materialize,” says Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for figures on how many volunteers have signed up on its site to act as a “Trump Election Observer.”)