Donald Trump loyalists will attempt to conduct their own crowd-funded exit polling on election day, ostensibly due to fears that electronic voting machines in certain areas may have been “rigged”, the Guardian has learned. But the effort, led by Trump’s notorious informal adviser Roger Stone, will focus on 600 different precincts in nine Democrat-leaning cities with large minority populations, a tactic branded highly irregular by experts, who suggested that organizers could potentially use the polling as a way to intimidate voters. Stone told the Guardian that around 1,300 volunteers from the controversial Citizens for Trump grassroots coalition would conduct exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Richmond and Fayetteville – all locations in pivotal swing states. Media organizations and political campaigns conduct exit polling for all major elections, but David Paleologos – a polling expert and director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center – said effective exit polling was done in bellwether precincts, not in areas likely to be dominated by a particular political party. “It doesn’t sound like that’s a traditional exit poll,” Paleologos said of Stone’s planned efforts. “It sounds like that’s just gathering data, in heavily Democratic areas for some purpose. It doesn’t sound like exit polling.”
The Republican nominee said during Wednesday’s debate he would keep America “in suspense” over whether he would accept the outcome of the vote on 8 November, and on Thursday he said he would accept only “if I win” or if it is a “clear” result. He has frequently told his supporters that the election is being “rigged” against him, and since August his campaign has been recruiting election observers in anticipation of what he claims could be widespread voter fraud.
On Thursday, Stone, a noted conspiracy theorist, argued that the campaign had focused their efforts to combat the so-called “rigged election” in the wrong area and should instead concentrate on “election theft” via hacked or compromised voting machines.
“To those who say that it would be un-American to challenge the election on the basis that it was rigged, I would argue it would be un-American to have evidence of that rigging and not challenge the election,” Stone said.