Mayor de Blasio is sending hundreds of volunteers to poll sites in poor and immigrant neighborhoods on Election Day claiming he needs to protect against a push to “intimidate voters” that he pinned on President Trump — despite little to no evidence of suppression efforts in the five boroughs.
“The president has made very clear he’s intending to defy the will of the voters,” de Blasio said on WNYC radio Friday.
“We want to believe that nothing like that will happen here but when you start saying it can’t happen here that’s exactly when it does happen,” de Blasio said.
New York City is not a swing district and Hillary Clinton took 79 percent of the vote in 2016.
WNYC host Brian Lehrer asked Hizzoner about concerns that because he’s a progressive Democrat his plan may “backfire and encourage the Republican Party to send out its poll workers.”
De Blasio ignored the question.
Lehrer also wondered why City Hall wasn’t leaving the work to more experienced nonpartisan groups. On Thursday, Common Cause, a half century-old good government group, announced its own extensive election protection program of in-person and digital poll monitors who’ve undergone extensive training. The group had a similar program in 2016 and includes early polling sites unlike City Hall’s plan that will only happen on Nov 3.
Still the mayor insisted his untested 11th-hour plan, called The Election Observers Corps, was superior.
In the past maybe this was something we could leave to nonprofit efforts — they’re very good, well-intentioned efforts — but this year we may be dealing with something more systematic,” he said.
De Blasio said the volunteers would include city workers from agencies like the Law Department and DemocracyNYC. He could not provide specifics on how many monitors would be out on Election Day or how they’d be trained before then.
“I’d rather be too vigilant and too prepared to have hundreds of people out at the polls ready to act than be painfully surprised on Election Day by a voter suppression effort,” de Blasio said.
A tweet sent Friday from an official mayoral account said the election corps would be comprised of “civically-minded New Yorkers” trained by city lawyers and DemocracyNYC officials. The monitors would report any instances of “voter intimidation, suppression or harassment” to “central staff” who would in turn notify the state attorney general and Board of Elections.
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