Donald Trump Jr. Is Recruiting an Election Day “Army”

Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images via ZUMA

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Today Barton Gellman tells me something that I didn’t know: “the consent decree is gone.” Here’s what that means:

The 2020 presidential election will be the first in 40 years to take place without a federal judge requiring the Republican National Committee to seek approval in advance for any “ballot security” operations at the polls. In 2018, a federal judge allowed the consent decree to expire, ruling that the plaintiffs had no proof of recent violations by Republicans. The consent decree, by this logic, was not needed, because it worked.

The order had its origins in the New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1981. According to the district court’s opinion in Democratic National Committee v. Republican National Committee, the RNC allegedly tried to intimidate voters by hiring off-duty law-enforcement officers as members of a “National Ballot Security Task Force,” some of them armed and carrying two-way radios. According to the plaintiffs, they stopped and questioned voters in minority neighborhoods, blocked voters from entering the polls, forcibly restrained poll workers, challenged people’s eligibility to vote, warned of criminal charges for casting an illegal ballot, and generally did their best to frighten voters away from the polls. The power of these methods relied on well-founded fears among people of color about contact with police.

So what does this mean? Let’s turn the mic over to President Trump’s wastrel son:

It’s 1981 all over again. Trump Jr. is recruiting “an army” to provide “election security,” and I think everyone with more than a room temperature IQ knows what that means. It means descending in force on polling places in Black neighborhoods and trying to scare people into staying away. This is what Republicans routinely did until a judge stopped them, and it’s what they’re going to do again now that a judge has removed the leash. Apparently 40 years wasn’t enough.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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