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Politics Trump supporters staged a rally at a Virginia polling center during early voting, intimidating voters, election officials say

16:41  20 september  2020
16:41  20 september  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com

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Supporters of President Donald Trump staged a rally during early voting at a polling station in Virginia on Saturday, in a stunt that an election official said had intimidated voters and disrupted voting . According to footage of the incident posted online by filmmaker Anthony Tilghman

A county official said some voters and staff members felt intimidated . Supporters of President Trump gathered outside the Fairfax County Government Center with flags and banners A group of Trump supporters waving campaign flags disrupted the second day of early voting in Fairfax, Va

a close up of a flag: (File image) A supporter of President Trump waves flags outside of McKenzie Arena, where U.S. President Donald Trump is holding a rally in support of Republican Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn, November 4, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images (File image) A supporter of President Trump waves flags outside of McKenzie Arena, where U.S. President Donald Trump is holding a rally in support of Republican Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn, November 4, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Trump supporters waving flags and chanting slogans staged a rally near a polling center in Fairfax, Virginia, Saturday on the second day of early voting in the state, filmed footage shows.
  • "Some voters, and elections staff, did feel intimidated by the crowd and we did provide escorts past the group," said Gary Scott, the general registrar of Fairfax County.
  • But a local Republican official, Steve Rastatter, denied that protesters had been seeking to intimidate voters and said they had complied with officials' requests to move away.
  • President Trump has spread groundless accusations that Democrats are seeking to steal the election, and has called on supporters to act as poll monitors.
  • Attempts at voter intimidation are illegal in Virginia and other US states.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Supporters of President Donald Trump staged a rally during early voting at a polling station in Virginia on Saturday, in a stunt that an election official said had intimidated voters and disrupted voting.

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At a Virginia polling place, voters had to be given "escorts" to get past a group of chanting Trump supporters . One county official said the group intimidated voters who were waiting to vote The incident was a blip during a weekend in which voters came out in droves for the first chance to cast

Virginia Republicans’ Twitter account suggests those complaining call for a ‘waaaambulance.’ A day after the cable news channels carried images of Election Day–length lines at some polling places in suburban Virginia , and elsewhere, on the opening day of the early voting period, a Partner Center .

According to footage of the incident posted online by filmmaker Anthony Tilghman, a group of supporters holding up pro-Trump banners staged the protest near the polling station entrance in Fairfax, on the second day of early voting in the state.

A county election official, Gary Scott, said that the protest was about 100 feet from the building entrance where voters cast their ballot early.

Contrary to some initial reports, the protesters had not blocked access to the polling station, he said.

"Citizens coming into and leaving the building did have to go by them," Gary Scott, the general registrar of Fairfax County, said in a statement to The New York Times. "Those voters who were in line outside of the building were moved inside and we continued operations. Some voters, and elections staff, did feel intimidated by the crowd and we did provide escorts past the group. One of the escorts was the county executive."

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Peaceful protest of pro- Trump activists in Virginia scares Democrats during early voting . 5:23 am September 21, 2020. 97. The Fairfax polling station was besieged by Donald Trump supporters on Saturday.

Despite Melania Trump ’s somewhat private portfolio, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro nevertheless said earlier on Tuesday that Melania Trump is the “Jackie Trump supporters staged a rally at a Virginia polling center during early voting , intimidating voters , election officials say .

Fairfax County Democrats Chair Bryan Graham accused local Republicans of seeking to intimidate voters.

"The Republicans are straight-up attempting to intimidate voters at the Government Center. Circling the parking lots with their Trump flags and horns blaring," he tweeted.

But Fairfax County Republican Committee Vice-Chair Sean Rastatter, who was at the protest, told the Times that they not been seeking to intimidate voters.

He said that he didn't think "there was any way to need or feel intimidated in any form" and that protesters had complied with a request from election officials to "back away from the curb" and voters waiting to cast their ballot.

The incident reflects the febrile climate around this year's election, with Trump having repeatedly spread disinformation that mail-in votes are exposed to fraud, and Democrats are plotting to steal the election.

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Trump said on Twitter he is considering executive orders to continue expanded unemployment benefits, reinstate a moratorium on evictions, cut payroll taxes and Trump supporters staged a rally at a Virginia polling center during early voting , intimidating voters , election officials say .

Officials seek to recruit 50,000 poll watchers and spend millions to fight voter fraud. Some skeptics say the voting wars are partly political Kabuki, acted out to rally supporters in both parties and raise funds for advocacy groups. Honest Elections officials did not respond to a request for an interview.

The president at rallies has called on supporters to act as"poll watchers" to guard against election fraud. Democrats say that the president seeks to delegitimize thousands of mail-in votes to cling to power illegally should he lose in November.

Thousands more Americans are expected to cast their ballot by mail this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, with polls showing Democratic nominee Joe Biden holding the lead over Trump.

Already some observers say that the escalating tensions could spill over into election day violence.

Russ Travers, who served as acting director of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre until March, told ABC News last week: "I fear there are a lot of people out there with very warped views of reality and a lot of guns who could willingly take up their weapons in defense of what they believe is the President and the constitution.

"That, I think, is a worrisome possibility that is growing as the political rhetoric gets more and more severe."

In a statement Saturday, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano said that those seeking to intimidate voters would be prosecuted.

"I am instructing my office to pursue cases of voter intimidation that may occur," Descano tweeted.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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