A Reuters piece Thursday afternoon carried the headline, “In blow to Trump, U.S. court denies Republican poll monitor request.” The article reported on a federal judge’s decision to uphold a Pennsylvania state law requiring party-registered election monitors to only serve in the county of their registration.
The law makes sense, of course. If you’re registered as a Democrat in Montgomery County, PA, you can’t monitor a polling place in super-red Fulton County. And if you’re a militant gun nut from the middle of the state, you can’t “volunteer” to watch the polls in Philadelphia.
It sounds like a policy that should exist in every state, let alone every swing state. Given that party affiliation varies widely from county to county, the rule keeps partisan interference at the polls to a minimum. That increases voter turnout in all counties.
But voter turnout isn’t really on Donald Trump’s side right now. He trails Hillary Clinton by 3½ points in Pennsylvania, and with three days to go, needs something significant to nudge the vote. Enter his request for “poll monitors.” From the Reuters article:
Trump has repeatedly said that the Nov. 8 presidential election may be rigged, and has urged supporters to keep an eye out for signs of voting fraud in Philadelphia and other heavily Democratic areas. … [But] In Pennsylvania, Trump's poll-monitoring plan faces a significant hurdle because state law requires partisan poll watchers to perform their duties in the county in which they are registered to vote.
“Makes it difficult” for Trump’s poll monitor “plan” to happen? Does reporter Andy Sullivan know what he is saying?
You don’t need to work for the Southern Poverty Law Center to translate Trump’s instruction to his supporters. He is encouraging his armed, angry, white zealots to organize into a politically influential paramilitary. Or, as Politico put it, “Hostile Poll-Watchers Could Hand Pennsylvania To Trump.” Or as we call it when it happens in, say, Iraq, electoral violence.
Luckily, we’re still a civilized nation. And in the state of Pennsylvania, at least, we have a law designed to avoid the exact ugliness Trump is soliciting. It is not a “blow” to Trump that the law is upholding the integrity of the democratic process. It’s called “not allowing voter intimidation.” The blow to Trump is the fact that almost 60% of Americans find him abominable and would rather do musket battle with red coats than watch him lead our republic.
Even citing Trump’s claims about a rigged election without annotation is irresponsible. Yes, Donald Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud, but the fact that he has no evidence to that effect should influence how, or ideally whether, that allegation is reported. We already know the guy says anything that either gets him a clap or gets him on TV. Not all of it needs to get conveyed. Trump’s credibility is lower than what the tradition of prima facie reporting on politicians was intended for. He’s in a position of potential power, sure, but nobody writing about Trump should fail to mention that his rhetoric is no more lucid than the Westboro Baptist Church.
Ultimately, the tone of this Reuters article is exactly the type of gormless media relativism that legitimized Trump in the first place. No fact checks baked into the reporting, just an unhinged statement regurgitated from the ass’s mouth.
Thank the Spaghetti Monster that we have people like U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert to fend off this particular Trump assault on voter freedom. Unfortunately, it’s not the only trick up his slee