Sen. Bob Casey asked for Justice Department assistance Thursday amid reports that white nationalists plan to show up at polling areas in Philadelphia to monitor for voter fraud.
Casey, in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Principal Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta, accused white nationalist and alt-right groups of trying to suppress votes in urban areas with large minority populations.
“These plans to monitor the polls are little more than thinly veiled attempts to suppress and delegitimize the votes of predominantly minority citizens, inflected with innuendo that recalls dark times in our country’s civil rights struggle,” wrote Casey, D-Pa. “These calls are more than wrong and irresponsible; if executed, they could be illegal.”
He asked Lynch and Gupta to “provide necessary resources, guidance and support to its U.S. Attorneys,” designated election officers, and county officials to “ensure proper enforcement of election monitoring rules that protect every American’s right to vote.”
“We have come too far to allow a group of white nationalists to intimidate minority voters in Philadelphia or anywhere throughout the nation,” he wrote.
Casey sent the letter after Politico reported that the National Socialist Movement, elements of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Freedom Party intend to send its members to Pennsylvania and other states, heeding Donald Trump’s call for his supporters to watch out for voter fraud.
Trump has argued that the election system is rigged and rife with voter fraud, specifically identifying Philadelphia as a problem area.
“I just hear such reports about Philadelphia,” Trump said to a largely white audience during a rally in Wilkes-Barre in October. “I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.”
Several state, local and federal election officials have said that voter fraud is extremely rare. Trump’s call for supporters to be poll watchers seems to have caused a difference of opinion with the Republican National Committee.
The Los Angeles Times reported that John Phillippe, Jr., the RNC’s general counsel, wrote in a legal brief last week that he sent a memo to the party’s staff that said the “RNC has no role and will not partake in any voter fraud or poll watching activities” and will not participate in “any ballot security efforts by other organizations, including Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.”