President Donald Trump is recruiting retired Minnesota police officers as “challengers” at polling stations, as state polls show that his Democratic rival Joe Biden has an 8 percent lead.
On Wednesday, William Willingham, a senior legal adviser and director of election day operations for the Trump campaign, sent an e-mail to the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, Lieutenant Bob Kroll, asking Kroll to recruit 20 to 30 retired police officers as “poll challengers” to work full or part-time shifts in “rough neighborhoods” on election day.
“Survey challengers don’t ‘stop’ people per se, but act as our eyes and ears on the ground and call our hotline to document fraud,” the Minnesota Star Tribune email said. “We don’t necessarily want our survey challengers to look intimidating, they can’t carry a gun in the surveys because of state law” (….) We only want people who are not afraid in rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations.
Kroll reportedly forwarded the email to other union members. Kroll is a Trump supporter who joined the president on stage at a rally in October 2019 to support Trump’s platform for law and order.
Tekk.tv contacted the Trump campaign and Kroll to comment.
According to state law, only one election observer representing each political party is allowed per electoral district, and election candidates may contest the eligibility of a voter only if “they have personal knowledge of the non-eligibility of that voter”.
“To the extent that Bob Kroll wants to participate in a campaign of voter intimidation, the city will take this very seriously,” Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis City Council member, told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “There’s the distinct dog whistle of the ‘rough neighborhood,’ and we need people who are not ‘easily intimidated’ and people who are not afraid.
A “dog whistle” refers to the language used in political messages to suggest potentially offensive things to certain groups without provoking the resistance of others. In this case, Ellison believes that a “rough neighborhood” can refer to predominantly non-white people throughout the state.
Biden currently leads Trump in the state with 50.2 percent of supporters, compared to 42.2 percent of Trump’s supporters, according to FiveThirtyEight polling research.
In late September, Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., appeared in a video ad in social media asking people to join an “army” to prevent the “radical left” from implementing its plan to “steal” the election.
The president also promised to send thousands of law enforcement officers to the polling stations on election day, a move that will prevent people who mistrust the police from voting.