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Opinion: Armed election observers are a recipe for Election Day disaster

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Following the alleged kidnapping attempt on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and in anticipation of the 2020 election, John Avlon writes about the history of voter intimidation, right-wing vigilante groups, and how both might affect voters on Election Day.

And in Dallas, according to a report obtained by The Nation, the FBI reportedly warned local law enforcement about the potential for right-wing election violence -- specifically mentioning the Boogaloo movement of second Civil War accelerationists which has been shadowing racial justice protests over the summer and is believed to have ties to the alleged Michigan kidnapping plot.

There's been a lot of talk about violent protests this year, including from Vice President Mike Pence during his Republican National Convention nomination speech, in which he said: "We've seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities. " And that "Dave Patrick Underwood was an officer of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service, who was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California. "

Attorney General Bill Barr has likewise played up the politically loaded dangers of left-wing extremists like antifa, and a US Department of Homeland Security whistleblower alleges that DHS officials were urged to exaggerate antifa's danger, following President Trump's lead in trying to tie them to the Democrats.

So it's no surprise that there is a growing concern about voter intimidation from these armed groups in response to President Trump's call for poll watchers.

That's why it's notable that a new report by the Giffords Law Center warns that "it is likely that significant numbers of people will bring guns to polling places under the guise of preventing election fraud. "

There's a long, ugly history of armed voter intimidation, going back to violence in the Reconstruction era, as White vigilante groups fought to stop newly freed Black citizens from voting.

Good will seems missing from our political debates today, so there is unfortunately every reason to keep a close eye on attempts at voter intimidation and the threat of violence as we head into election week 2020.

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