Attorneys general from three swing states are vowing to fight voter intimidation after comments from the president raised worries of armed confrontations at polling places.
The attorneys general from Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada, all Democrats, spoke to reporters on a conference call Tuesday in response to a statement President Donald Trump made during his first debate with Joe Biden. There, Trump questioned whether the election would be fair and urged his supporters to go to the polls and “watch very carefully.”
It was the latest Trump statement aimed at delegitimizing the voting process for the upcoming election.
It also raised concerns it could encourage voter intimidation, including by armed Trump supporters, who have already shown up at anti-racism rallies around the country.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said anyone who interferes with Nevadans right to vote will be prosecuted.
“To the extent you violate the law relative to using your firearm to intimidate or unduly influence someone, that's going to be considered voter intimidation,” he said.
The conference call was organized by Let America Vote, a political action group founded by former U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander, a Democrat.
Voter intimidation is a federal crime, though enforcement is largely left to the states, and poll watching rules vary by state.
Trump campaign officials have said they simply want to ensure a fair vote, but there is a mechanism for that: official poll watchers generally must be certified by the state in which they plan to operate. But Trump supporters have already attempted unofficial poll watching in several places where early voting is underway. That includes an incident during which a Trump campaign staffer was escorted away from a satellite election office in Philadelphia.
Trump has also refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses, further raising worries about potential election and post-election unrest.
Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.