Election officials fear Trump 'army' of conspiracy-loving poll watchers will terrorize voters
Supporters rally behind President Donald Trump during an October 2016 event. Image via Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore.

President Donald Trump has encouraged an "army" of supporters to show up to "monitor" polling places, which has raised concerns about intimidation and suppression.


Voting rights activists and government officials fear Trump supporters will scare off Democratic voters afraid of possibly violent confrontation, and some officials suspect that's the president's intent, reported USA Today.

“The rhetoric itself is suppressive," said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat. “All of that taken together is aimed to suppress turnout. As elections officials, we have to clearly state that voter suppression is systemic racism."

Trump has repeatedly claimed the election, which is already underway in many states, is "corrupt," and he and his campaign have urged supporters to show up at polls using militaristic and inflammatory language.

"My biggest concern, and both sides do this, is undermining confidence in elections across the board," said Trey Grayson, a Republican and former Kentucky secretary of state. "We've got to have people trust the outcome. The losers have to believe it was a fair fight."

Election experts worry that violence could break out between armed right-wing groups and voters, especially since the president has called for his supporters to protect polling places for him.

"Some people are just not very smart and buy into conspiracy theories, and some people are smart and they would happily disenfranchise voters," said Mary McCord, a former federal prosecutor and now a Georgetown Law School professor. "You can't ignore the disinformation coming straight from the president. He right now is the greatest threat to our democracy, and people do act on the things he says."