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  • Voter leaving booth

    Voter leaving booth | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 October 2016

Tens of thousands of voting rights advocates will volunteer on election day to make sure voters aren't harassed—a growing possibility this year.

Both far-right militias and civil rights groups are preparing for U.S. election day on Nov. 8, announcing they will send thousands to polls across the country to prevent fraud and misinformation.

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“(W)e call on you to form up incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting teams,” said Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keeper—an armed patriot’s group of police and servicemen—earlier this week as he announced a national campaign. “And go out into public on election day, dressed to blend in with the public … with video, still camera, and notepad in hand, to look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities.”

Rhodes has echoed Donald Trump’s assertions that the elections are rigged and cannot be trusted and has previously incited violence over other extremist positions.

Even the Republican National Committee was so concerned about violence and the targeting of minorities that it reminded members not to interfere with voting, though it hired poll observers and will help Donald Trump with “ballot security.” The RNC currently has a court order that prevents it from recruiting volunteers to harass voters and question eligibility, and the Democratic National Committee requested on Wednesday that the order, set to expire next year, be extended.

A few days earlier, a coalition of civil and voting rights groups sent letters to secretaries of state in multiple states demanding "a plan to ensure that no one in your state is disenfranchised in the upcoming election," reported Mother Jones on Thursday.

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The Department of Justice mobilizes poll observers every year, but this year there will be fewer. Fourteen states have changed voting laws, so confusion will be likely come election day.

"Threats of voter intimidation, the most racially bigoted election in generations, and the specter of voting discrimination in the first-post Shelby presidential election have created a perfect storm for disenfranchisement," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, to reporters.

His group and others across the country are preparing tens of thousands of volunteers to inform voters about their rights and protect them from potential harassment.

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