The Trump Campaign Must Feel Very Confident if They're Filming People at Ballot Drop Boxes
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Election officials in Pennsylvania say the Trump campaign's tactics in the crucial swing state could amount to voter intimidation.

Encouraged by Donald Trump himself, the president’s campaign and some of his supporters have already been engaging in alleged intimidation tactics as early voting opens across the country. According to the New York Times, those efforts appear to include videotaping voters at ballot drop boxes in Philadelphia—a practice that may go beyond the poll watching allowed under Pennsylvania law.

Per the Times, the president’s operation in the crucial swing state has been surveilling drop boxes in Philly, claiming that they are documenting “blatant violations” of Pennsylvania election law—namely, that voters are dropping off more than one ballot. “This must be stopped,” Linda A. Kerns, a local Trump campaign lawyer, wrote in a formal complaint to city officials. But city officials countered the campaign’s complaint, arguing that the voters who had dropped off additional ballots had not necessarily broken the law. “Third party delivery is permitted in certain circumstances,” Benjamin H. Field, deputy city solicitor and counsel to the Philadelphia Board of Elections, told Kerns. Moreover, officials blasted the campaign’s tactics, suggesting they could amount to intimidation.

“Pennsylvania law permits poll watchers to carry out very discrete and specific duties—videotaping voters at drop boxes is not one of them,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the Times. “Our entire system of voting is built on your ballot being private and your choice to vote being a personal one. Depending on the circumstance, the act of photographing or recording a voter casting a ballot could be voter intimidation—which is illegal.”

The Trump campaign rejected that characterization. “It is categorically absurd to say that filming a drop box—especially when news outlets do the same—is voter intimidation,” spokesperson Thea McDonald told the Philadelphia Inquirer. But it is just one of several efforts by the campaign in Pennsylvania to limit voting there. For months, the president’s team has waged legal battles against mail-in ballots and drop boxes in the state, all under the pretense that millions are voting illegally, as Trump has repeatedly claimed without basis. The Trump campaign “wants to have fewer people vote in Pennsylvania, and [Democrats] to be intimidated and afraid to,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Nancy Mills told PBS last month.

So far, though, it appears that voters are turning out, with Democrats vastly outpacing Republicans in early voting in Pennsylvania and other battleground states, according to data analyzed by Hawkfish, a Democratic research firm. “It’s a warning flare,” Republican strategist Scott Reed told Politico. This election, perhaps more than anything else, will likely hinge on widespread participation. So for Democrats, the massive early turnout is surely encouraging. But it remains to be seen if the Democratic advantage holds come Election Day, when more Republican voters are expected to turn out. “There is an army of red-hat wearing folks that are marking their calendar for November 3,” Republican consultant Charlie Gerow told Politico, noting the large crowd Trump drew during a recent campaign stop in Pennsylvania. “They’re champing at the bit.” Democrats’ early voting lead is already narrowing in some places as in-person polling locations open, CNN reported. That underscores the warning Joe Biden’s campaign has tried to drive home in the final stretch of the election: Don’t get too comfortable. “We’ve got to turn out like never before,” Barack Obama said at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia on Wednesday. “We cannot leave any doubt in this election. We can’t be complacent.”

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From: VANITYFAIR