“I know this is a bit of a departure from the ’mask’ issue, but it is clear that if the Democrats steal the election here in Nevada there will be a whole lot of mask mandates for years to come,” said the social media post from a Las Vegas Republican inviting supporters to meet in early October at President Donald Trump’s campaign office in Las Vegas “to organize an effort to go into the community and check for fraudulent voter activity.”
It’s the kind of ad hoc poll watching effort that has just about everyone on guard — from voters to law enforcement.
In Las Vegas, Metro Police say they’ll be working with the Secretary of State and standing up a Deployment Operations Center, a special operations hub usually reserved for major events.
“The DOC will be staffed with investigators from the State Attorney General’s Office and the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office to vet real-time information and deploy as necessary to calls for service,” says a news release from Metro. A representative from the Nevada Highway Patrol will also be on hand.
Metro is staffing 600 additional “non-patrol officers/detectives on stand-by throughout the day”, according to a statement from the department.
“Patrol officers will be available throughout the valley to deploy to the 125 designated voting locations if calls for service are generated by County Volunteers or citizens,” the department says.
Government offices, retailers and others are boarding up buildings in some cities in anticipation of possible violent protests on the left should Trump be re-elected. At least one Las Vegas business reportedly has done the same.
Metro Police did not respond to inquiries about preparations for possible protests after the results of the election are determined.
“I would hope they (Metro) would consider it a constitutional right (to protest), but I feel it’s fair to say this is unprecedented times,” Laura Martin, Executive Director of PLAN, told the Current.
Racial unrest dominated a relatively quiet Las Vegas Strip in June as Black Lives Matter protesters complained that police arrested peaceful marchers and provoked violence.
“It is possible that right-wing militia members, perhaps even dressed in full camouflage, will show up as ‘poll watchers’ on November 3—a clear move at voter intimidation,” says a report from Political Research Associates, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action (PLAN Action) and Indivisible Northern Nevada. “If President Trump loses the election, it is not inconceivable that some groups will threaten or even carry out armed resistance.”
“It is possible, even likely, that militia groups will use symbols of hate and racism to provoke violent encounters and manufacture ‘race riots’ that can be blamed on ‘radical leftists’ and Democrats,” the paper says. “Nevadans and Nevada media must be on guard against such ploys and false narratives. Nevada’s public officials must aggressively enforce any and all laws and regulations against voter intimidation and political violence.”
The report describes Nevada’s “deep history with White supremacy and right-wing violence, which continues to the present day” and suggests “the potential for havoc will be especially high both before and after the elections on November 3—especially if President Trump appears to have lost.”
In September, Trump called absentee mail-in ballots “the greatest scam in the history of presidential politics.”
Trump has unsuccessfully sued Nevada over blanketing the electorate with mail-in absentee ballots. When challenged during the first presidential debate to denounce the Proud Boys, a radical right-wing, racially-motivated organization, Trump instead suggested the Proud Boys “stand back and stand by,” interpreted by some as an invitation for unrest.
“The Democrats are trying to rig this election because that’s the only way they’re going to win,” Trump said at a Nevada rally in September, fanning the fears of an electorate already reeling from fear of foreign interference, COVID-inspired changes in voting protocol, and the president’s own hints he may not honor the results of the election.
“Not only have I never witnessed anything like this before, but I never even imagined it to be possible in my lifetime,” says Bob Fulkerson, state director and co-founder of PLAN. “The idea of far right insurrectionists inciting chaos to help keep in power an authoritarian President wasn’t a scenario they taught in government or political science class.”
Ian Bayne of No Mask Nevada, which has staged protests outside Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Las Vegas home in September, says his organization is doing no poll surveillance Tuesday.
“We’re trying to stop this (Michael) Naft guy, (State Senate Majority Leader) Nicole Cannizarro, and (State Assemblywoman) Lesley Cohen,” Bayne said Monday. “I’m not doing anything else tomorrow.”
Trump supporters Sunday clogged traffic and blocked bridges in New Jersey and New York, as the president tweeted praise for a caravan of Texas supporters who surrounded a Biden campaign bus on a highway. The FBI is investigating the incident.
“Our office works with local, state and federal partners to protect public safety, and keeping our communities safe throughout the election period is no exception,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement.