The increased presence of police at polling stations in the South has led to isolated incidents of harassment and intimidation, mainly directed against black voters. But in a seemingly “unprecedented” paradox, local officers were often stationed at election sites to help prevent “self-MP” white supremacist groups or armed supporters of former President Donald Trump from “monitoring” voters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a report on the 2020 election last week, which details cases of voter intimidation, suppression and pandemic issues in several states with a history of “racial gerrymandering.” The report, Overcoming the Unpublished: Southern Voters’ Battle Against Voter Suppression, Bullying and a Virus, examined the complex challenges that emerged following a high-profile election combined with health concerns racial and pandemic tense.
The report noted that defenders of the right to vote “generally discourage the presence of law enforcement officials” at polling stations, due to intimidation concerns. He also highlighted numerous anecdotes in which black or minority voters felt intimidated by the presence of local “loitering” or amateur “election monitors” armed with guns.
In Autauga County, Alabama, an MP who responded turned out to be a bigger issue than the disturbance he was called out for, even when addressing questioning-type questions to black voters. The “hostile” MP was “clearly unfamiliar with basic electoral laws,” the report said.
In Pike County, Alabama, a “Blue Lives Matter” sign has been prominently displayed inside a polling station. And in Miami, Florida, an officer in uniform voted while wearing a face mask with a pro-Trump slogan.
But while there were only “a few isolated incidents” that turned violent, officials in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi were generally more prepared to protect people. voters from extremist groups who threatened to disrupt the electoral process. The report pointed out that there are now 1,600 extremist groups in the United States, many of whom have threatened to “step in” to ensure “fair elections,” as Trump had urged his supporters to do for decades. month.
“A lone but armed Trump supporter strolled past a polling station in Louisiana,” the report notes.
The SPLC cited white supremacists Oath Keepers and Three Percenters as militias who initially prompted law enforcement to go to the polls for protection in the first place – just one of the many unique challenges facing militias of the voting rights and Southern voters themselves last November.
“The pandemic has caused massive and unforeseen strains on the electoral system and exacerbated the threats that already existed. Misinformation about absentee voting and electoral fraud spread quickly on social media. Threats of voter intimidation increased as white supremacist groups were emboldened by President Donald Trump’s open support and encouragement, ”the report’s summary sums up.
The report detailed how many Deep South problems had existed for decades and decades, long before the coronavirus. The authors noted that “the deep-rooted systemic racism in the region, high rates of poverty, economic and social inequalities, and the basis for voter suppression since the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment,” the anti-racial discrimination law ratified in 1870.
The SPLC also criticized other southern states for taking advantage of new tactics that could suppress the vote – such as Texas implementing a photo ID law and North Carolina passing a voter law that a federal court then ruled targeting black voters with “almost surgical precision.” according to the report.
The study described how the vote protection that had been in place for years faced many challenges due to the pandemic, especially as “solicitation in person was no longer secure.”
Newsweek contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center on Sunday afternoon for further remarks.
An observer watches election officials count the votes for Fulton County on January 6, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. The polls closed last night at 7 p.m. for the second round of Senate elections between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and Democratic candidates John Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. MEGAN VARNER / Stringer / Getty Images
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