Voter intimidation has existed in America since minorities were granted the right to vote. When you hear the phrases “poll taxes,” “gerrymandering” and “violence at the polls,” you might be inclined to think back to the Jim Crow era. Yet, as Election Day is tomorrow, those are all issues we’ve seen during the 2020 election season. It poses the question: Will minorities be safe on Election Day at the polls?
On Saturday, Trump supporters in San Antonio surrounded a Biden campaign bus and drove one of the vehicles with the campaign off the road, while yelling threats. The video quickly sparked controversy as their tactics to intimidate the campaign team wasn’t condemned by the president. In fact, he came to their defense.
“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump tweeted. “Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”
Trump defending an act of terrorism is that last thing our nation needs to experience, just before Election Day. How might this radicalize more domestic terrorists to incite violence towards Biden supporters and minority groups at the polls?
Historically, Black people have been targeted at polls to disenfranchise them with the use of threats and violence. Even after the passing of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, attempts to dissuade Black voters persisted. With Trump telling the Proud Boys group to “stand back and standby,” and telling his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” in the first presidential debate, it seems as though we can expect many vigilante Trump supporters to deputize themselves on Election Day.
Firearm sales this year have seen a substantial increase from last year’s sales. According to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting,“(SAAF)estimatesSeptember 2020 U.S. firearms unit sales at 1.8 million units, a year-over-year increase of 66% from September 2019.”
Many have predicted the uptick in gun sales to be in preparation for and after Election Day. The FBI and law enforcement in major cities like New York, have already devised plans for the possibility of violence on Election Day and following the results of the election. But those agencies’ preparation doesn’t give a sense of security to all Americans.
A Miami cop is facing discipline for voting in a Trump mask while in uniform, just two weeks ago. This type of voter intimidation and support for Trump can make Black and brown people, LGBTQ+, religious minorities and those with disabilities weary of just how much they can depend on law enforcement to keep them safe, should violence erupt on Election Day.
Voting by mail and during early voting were ways to avoid large crowds and the chance of disenfranchisement tactics. But now that those options are virtually over, those who would like to cast their ballot must brave the lines and chances of violent and intimidating tactics at the polls tomorrow.
With no real leadership from our president and his refusal to condemn the intimidating measures his supporters have already been using, any violence that could erupt will probably be chopped up to being ANTIFA, as he blamed them for violence on several occasions of being asked specifically about right-wing violence.
Minorities resilience in this nation in the midst of election violence, has been impeccable when considering all they’ve experienced. But in 2020, minorities shouldn’t have to still be dealing with the same efforts to kill their vote that their ancestors experienced in the 1960’s.
Who can we turn to, to protect us on Election Day?