Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his surrogates amplified their rhetoric on the racially charged issue of voting fraud, accusing Democrats of systematic cheating that could throw the election to Hillary Clinton.
Trump said in a Twitter message Sunday that the Nov. 8 election is “absolutely being rigged” at polling places and through media coverage. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said election fraud was a sin committed almost entirely by Democrats in America’s inner cities, where populations tend to be heavily minorities.
“They leave dead people on the rolls, and then they pay people to vote those dead people four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times,” said Giuliani, one of Trump’s most prominent supporters, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added, “dead people generally vote for Democrats.”
Cheating by Republicans is rare, Giuliani said. “They don’t control inner cities the way Democrats do,” he said.
Voting-rights advocates — and an increasing number of federal judges — have said there’s no evidence that impersonation at the polling place is a widespread problem in the U.S. When it concluded in July that Texas’
voter-ID law was racially discriminatory, a federal appeals court said there had been only two convictions for in-person voter fraud, out of 20 million votes cast, in the decade before the 2011 law was passed.
Another federal appeals court blocked a Republican-backed North Carolina voting law, saying its provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The measure imposed a photo-ID requirement, limited early voting, and eliminated same-day registration.
‘Too Many Stories’
Trump this month urged his supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania to monitor polling places for fraud, issuing what voting-rights advocates say was a call for intimidation.
“You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get your friends, and you’ve got to get everybody you know, and you’ve got to watch the polling booths because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas,” Trump said.
“We can’t let them get away with this, folks,” he said in New Hampshire on Saturday.
On Sunday, Giuliani backer and former House speaker Newt Gingrich singled out Philadelphia as a particular hotbed of alleged cheating. “To suggest that we have, you don’t have theft in Philadelphia is to deny reality,” Gingrich said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Gingrich said the “best description” of the election was that it would be a ‘coup d’etat,’ a phrase that refers to the violent overthrow of a government.
Trump has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the pending election as he’s fallen further behind Clinton in the polls in recent weeks. He has faulted media outlets for reporting on allegations that he kissed and groped women without their consent.
Not all Republicans have jumped on Trump’s suggestions of fraud. His running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said he and Trump will “absolutely” accept the result of the election. Still, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Pence said “the sense of a rigged election” has been created by “the obvious bias in the national media.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has said he’ll no longer work for Trump’s election, also separated himself from the rhetoric. Ryan is “fully confident” the election will be carried out with integrity, his spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine Sunday accused Trump of engaging in “scare tactics,” and said Russia was trying to influence the Nov. 8 election. The U.S. government has blamed the Russian government for hacking into the computer systems of Democratic groups and leaking information, including e-mails from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
“Hillary and I stand up for the integrity of our elections,” Kaine said on “This Week.” “Hillary and I stand against Russian efforts to meddle in an American election.”