Vote Protectors, a group associated with Roger Stone, had a plan. The plan was to send untrained people with badges and cameras to the polls in minority-rich cities. They would act, according to the site, as “citizen journalists” and (fake) poll watchers, but with “official looking IDs” free to create and print for anyone from the site. And if they just happened to scare off minority voters? What a shame!
That was the plan, at least until Roger Stone was asked about the dirty tricks. Then, the plan and the proof started to disappear.
The controversial Trump ally, long known for his bare-knuckled political tactics, said that key proposals on his group’s websites were there without his knowledge, and assured HuffPost that he would operate within the confines of election law.
Huffington Post writers joined up on Stone’s site to become poll watchers when they couldn’t get answers from Stone himself. What they discovered was that they could alter the exit polling data by adding votes for either candidate without any proof and print IDs freely for any person (or fictional character) they wished. There were very few instructions on how to be a legitimate poll watcher, or how to legally conduct themselves as “citizen journalists”, but a lot of information on how to upload videos to the website:
Vote Protectors’ volunteers “commit to go out in November and post their YouTube and Periscope streams to the [Vote Protectors] website, organized by state and district, as well as enter actual exit poll survey responses,” the group’s “members only” page reads.
Roger Stone’s reaction when confronted with the obvious scheme? Order Voter Protectors to take down the badge generators and say that he didn’t know about the tactics they had planned to use. Stone claims he is only interested in “scientific” polling. Polling he plans on accomplishing by using people who will sign an affidavit that they are not lying about the people they poll. While one step above the Vote Protector’s willy-nilly attempt to confuse and intimidate voters, Stone’s proposed process is too easily corrupted to be trustworthy. Most likely a feature, not a bug.
The goal is clearly to help Trump “prove” the election was stolen. But the fact is that Stone could have used (and was probably planning to) the highly suspect information from Vote Protectors with plausible deniability for the same purpose.
It took the Huffington Post actually catching them in the act, with screen shots and saved video, to prevent this one egregious example of planned, orchestrated voter intimidation. Tactics that Stone himself called a bad idea (after he was busted). Barring that, this would have happened on election day. People would have pointed to these “poll results,” which have little basis in reality, as a manner of de-legitimizing the election.
At the same time, Stone’s “poll watchers” with “badges” would have chased off a number of voters which, of course, was the entire point.
The fact is, Trump can’t win minority voters so he and his surrogates have been whipping their followers into a frenzy over so-called “voter fraud.” They are screaming that unless people watch (read: intimidate) voters at the polls in “certain” areas, Trump will lose.
It seems that in conservative circles, the order of the day is if you can’t beat ’em, intimidate, harass, and spread disinformation to stop ’em from voting.
This is just one small part of the massive effort Trump’s followers are planning to tamper with the election. Now more than ever, you need to get out there, vote and don’t let anyone keep you from exercising your rights.