After a report that a white supremacist group plans to hand out “40s and weed” to residents in Philadelphia’s “ghetto” in an effort to keep minority voters home, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) called on the Department of Justice to guard against voter intimidation.
“These calls to action are little more than thinly veiled attempts to suppress and delegitimize the votes of predominantly minority citizens, inflected with innuendo that recalls dark times in our country’s civil rights struggle,” Casey wrote in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “These calls are more than wrong and irresponsible; if executed, they could be illegal.
“We have come too far to allow a group of white nationalists to intimidate minority voters in Philadelphia or anywhere throughout the nation.”
Politico reported on Wednesday that a neo-Nazi and alt-right group said they planned to do what they could to keep minority voters home by “sending an army of Alt-Right nationalists to watch the polls.”
"Many polling locations are in schools, and black schools are so disorderly that pretty much any official-looking white person with a clipboard can gain access to them ahead of time and set up a hidden camera," a representative of the group said in an email, according to Politico.
The call to action by white supremacists have rallied a response by community groups and leaders in Philadelphia who want to ensure “election advocates” are stationed at polling places in predominately African-American communities.
“If it’s an older woman who’s on a cane, if it’s somebody who’s thirsty, if it’s someone who just needs some encouragement – we’re [here] to do just that,” Rev. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, said. “And if anyone comes around to do anything that would deter from the free, fair opportunity to vote, we will shut that down.”
In Casey's letter, he urged the DOJ to enforce proper election monitoring and not allow anyone to “go around and watch other polling places” and “watch other communities," as he said the GHOP nominee has encouraged his supporters to do. Polling Watcher Certificates must be applied for and approved by the candidate or political party in advance, according to the Philadelphia City Commissioners.
“To the extent individuals or teams of individuals come to Philadelphia or other counties where they are not registered to vote and attempt to act as poll watchers, they may be acting in violation of laws protecting voters against intimidation,” Casey wrote.