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Op-Ed: Local prosecutors are now the last defense against voter suppression and Election Day chaos

WLA Guest
Written by WLA Guest

The 2020 presidential election is the first in nearly 40 years without court protection for voters

by Miriam Aroni Krinsky

Self-appointed poll watchers across the U.S. are gearing up to patrol polling precincts on Election Day for signs of voter fraud — even though voter fraud is exceedingly rare. This dangerous development is all the more concerning because the 2020 presidential election will be the first since 1980 that will not be under the watch of a federal “consent decree” — a legal order that until it expired in 2018 gave courts a speedy way to block efforts to intimidate or harass voters.

Absent a federal response to voter intimidation or a good way for courts to oversee the process, local prosecutors must take on new responsibility for ensuring a free and fair election process.

The federal consent decree took effect after the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election, when some political strategists sought to block voters they claimed were fraudulent — many of whom were Black or Hispanic — from getting to the polls. In the 2020 election, many of the tactics used to intimidate voters in 1981 seem likely to re-emerge.

Some may justify these poll-watching efforts as necessary to prevent voter fraud, but experts repeatedly have found that in-person voter fraud is exceptionally rare. A comprehensive report from The Brennan Center reviewed elections meticulously studied for voter fraud and found incident rates of fraud between 0.0003% and 0.0025%, concluding that it is more likely that a voter “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.” The Washington Post similarly analyzed more than 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 to 2014, and found only 31 credible cases of impersonation fraud.

Yet even if in-person voter fraud were to occur this year, it is unlikely that poll watchers, without formal training or insight into the voter rolls, would be able to stop it. Rather, history has shown that these tactics are far more likely to single out and suppress the votes of people of color. And with confidence in the police at an all-time low, we simply can’t afford for communities to lose even more faith in the legitimacy of their government.

In the remaining weeks before the election, elected state and local prosecutors should redouble their efforts to spread the message that anyone who intimidates or harasses voters will be prosecuted. They should coordinate with their local Boards of Election to establish a plan for referring cases of voter intimidation for prosecution. They must also make sure that both voters and poll workers  know their rights and know how to report unlawful disruptions.

Along with other public leaders, elected prosecutors should educate voters on what, if any, identification they will need to vote. In the 21 states that allow voter registration on Election Day, prosecutors should make that choice clear. They should tell voters that anyone told by a poll worker that they are not on the voter roll has the right to request a provisional ballot and is able to challenge their eligibility with their local election authority.

As states continue the decades-old practice of purging eligible voters from the rolls, such protective measures will be especially important. Local prosecutors can post notices, send mailers, work with local media or speak directly to community groups to raise awareness of voters’ rights and ensure the public knows that violators will be prosecuted. For example, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has been vocal about the rules imposed on election observers and his willingness to prosecute those who intimidate voters.

On Election Day, local officials should be prepared to respond quickly and decisively to reports of voter intimidation. They should have qualified experts, including prosecutors and municipal attorneys, ready to document concerns and, if possible, resolve disputes. They also should ensure that their teams are trained to sensitively defuse polling-place crises without escalating tension.

For example, in Fort Bend County, Texas, District Attorney Brian Middleton has established a task force that will spread throughout the county on Election Day, ready to address complaints of voter intimidation. In Fairfax County, Va., where local officials have already dealt with intimidation during early voting, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has created a team that is trained on how to address the tactics used by militia groups to disrupt elections.

Officials should also be sure that they have strong systems to swiftly identify crises and deploy additional resources. In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner has launched a hotline that will direct calls to his assistant district attorneys, who will be ready to send detectives to investigate reports of voter suppression or intimidation as they happen.

Voter suppression, not voter fraud, is the real problem

Rather than focus on voter fraud, which in fact is rare, it may be more beneficial to counter voter suppression, which is rampant in U.S. politics.

In 2000, before the presidential election was decided by a mere 537 votes in Florida, at least 12,000 eligible voters, disproportionately Black, were purged from the state’s voter rolls. This practice continues across the U.S. today.

Similarly, in 2016, estimates suggest that almost 1 million eligible U.S. voters were unable to cast their ballots due to problems with either the registration or voting process. This year, many voters will face burdensome voter identification requirements, reduced availability of polling sites, exorbitantly long lines, purged voter rolls and, of course, a pandemic. Any new obstacles seeking to intimidate or drive voters away from the polls will only cut more voices out of the political process.

Local elected leaders are needed now more than ever to speak out on behalf of protecting fair and free elections — and on behalf of all in their community who seek to exercise one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: The right to vote.


Miriam Aroni Krinsky is executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution. The advocacy group recently released this video message on elections: Protecting The Integrity of Our Elections: A Message from DAs to America. Krinsky served for 15 years as a federal prosecutor, including on an organized crime and narcotics task force.


Krinsky’s essay first appeared at Market Watch, and we are republishing it with the kind permission of Market Watch, and our friend Miriam Krinsky, along with Fair and Just Prosecution.

29 Comments

  • Miriam Krinsky again?
    If, by voter suppression, you are referring to actually having proof of who you are and your right to vote (being a citizen) then I’m all for voter suppression.

    Suppress away.
    If it eliminates fraud then double the suppression efforts.

  • This is not suppression and there has not been one case of voter suppression in this election or the last one! This is about voter fraud. Even this trash article is by some unknown socialist. SOMETHING HAS GONE VERY WRONG! HUNTER BIDEN’S COMPUTER IS FACTUAL AND IT IS NOT BEING REPORTED? AMERICA MIGHT HAVE SEEN IT’S LAST GREAT DAYS. BEHOLD THE PALE HORSE FOR THE RIDER(BIDEN) IS DEATH AND HELL FOLLOWS!

    • You mean the FRAUD that was conducted in East Los Angeles to elect the Bandido Sheriff. Now that was fraud. ALADS sent political hit cards in the mail to scare Latinos that TRUMP was coming for them and sending ICE to their homes if Jim McDonnel is re-elected.
      Sheriff Villanueva’s campaign point man in East Los Angeles was a guy named Javier Hernandez. Google him.

      • When AV runs for re-election Trump probably won’t be President anymore, and the good folks fielding the candidate against D.A. Lacey in the upcoming election dislike AV as much, or more,, as they do Lacey–lessee who they field as a candidate against AV.

          • I stopped reading that link when it said, in the first paragraph, that “Villanueva was the first Latino Sheriff in over 100 years.”

            Both you & I can think of a couple of Latino Sheriffs within the last 100 years, including one who is now in Federal prison for wrongdoing. The other has at least a couple of buildings named after him, so his name should not be forgotten.

          • Hahaha “Adam Schiff…trustworthy.”

            That’s how you know a story is weak as hell and not very in tune with the American “government.”

            If this Javier clown supported my run for PTA president, I would distance myself as far as possible.

  • These are just minor crimes. No one was hurt. They are misguided offenders in need of counselors. The progress DAs Miriam has been pushing should refrain from prosecuting.
    Notice if the crime might actually impact the power of these new progressive DAs they suddenly take prosecution of non violent crime seriously.
    Oh and lack of trust in police… Hello who has been pushing that Miriam?

    How can you trust these guys. First it’s don’t prosecute low level misdemeanors or non violent felonies. But if the crimes are by our political rivals we… lock them up.
    Seems Miriam wants it both ways. So we don’t have any jail space as you requested….

  • “Voter suppression” seems to generally effect people who haven’t bothered to vote in a long time, or haven’t taken the time to register properly. Should people that stupid and lazy be encouraged to vote? Btw California has the same rules so I guess it’s as systemically racist as everybody else.

    It’s also nice to know Ms. Krinsky has determined that there is no voter fraud, well not much anyways. Now how she can determine that is a bit of a mystery. Especially considering how easy it would be to cheat, with very little risk of getting caught. Not to mention the motivation (how many billions are spent by political campaigns?) But ms Krinsky tells us not to worry about this, it’s the people trying to prevent the cheating that are the problem. You have to wonder how much of this has to do with who’s side she thinks the cheating will help.

  • @ County Taxpayer,

    The hit piece (Billboards & Posters) by ALADS was part of Villanueva conspiracy to scare Latinos.
    For those who don’t recall or remember, ALADS hit piece was a facial photo of Trump, Sessions and McDonnell posted throughout Latino communities.

    Gascon is probably banking on similar tactics using his Latino name to get votes.

  • Ladies, let us be frank, the sole purpose of these actions is to make it harder for people of color to vote. It really is that simple. For all practical purposes, voter fraud is nonexistent. As a democracy, we should make it as easy as possible for people to vote. You ladies would have been riding around in hoods, waving your guns on top of a pick-up with a confederate flag flying in the 1950s and 1960s on election day. Let us be clear, your ideal world would not have black or brown people, maybe homosexuals would be in the closet and women would stay in the kitchen and not take a hard working man’s job.

    Me, I love that we have brown, black, white, yellow, gays straights, trans, women doing what only were allowed. I do not care if someone has an accent or wears a turban, prays to one or many gods, or thinks there is no god. I’m thankful that abortion is legal. I’m glad we are coming around and weed is legal and we look for alternatives to incarceration. I want people who want so bad to be in this country that they ride on top of train for 2,000 miles, or pile up 20 deep on boat made for 3 and risk being food for sharks, or who make it out of camp where they were an oven away from death. Those people deserve to be here more than you and I. Do not think you are special because you were born here, or because you got a government job and carry a gun. You are a dinosaurs holding on but the days of people like you are numbered, society is passing you by. Hang on, ladies.

    Madame Kong, be careful what you ask for. If stupidity were a bar to voting, you and you ilk would not be able to vote and Trump would lose. But, alas, it is not, which is why Trump managed to get enough electoral votes through the support of yokels who believe in pedophile rings in Pizza joints, that believe Obama was born in Kenya, that believe the virus is a conspiracy to take our freedoms away, and a whole host of crazy conspiracies.

    It will be interesting whether Trump wins or loses. Buckle up, ladies

  • Another violent assault on a Dep. yesterday, an Illegal murders a Houston Sergeant, felony assaults on cops in Southern Calif. up over 150% from this time last year. Things you won’t hear about here or will concern the owner of this site or her minions.
    CF, where did ACORN go? Why did they leave us Little Missy? Now stfu. Oh, anybody and I mean anybody can get an ID and vote up, even your pathetic ass. Nobody can use, “I can’t get one because I can’t go to where I need to go to get one”, as an excuse.
    It’s old, tired and worn out like you.
    Back into the gutter you hateful fuck.

      • Clear to me, but not clear to you.

        No inmate, nor anybody else, deserves to die of COVID-19 locked up in a cell; that’s “Cruel and Unusual” punishment, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

        A bunch of times in your life you’ve taken an oath to”protect and defend the U.S. Constitution,” but evidently you didn’t understand what you were doing.

        • Sure they do and it has nothing to do with my oath. When Newsom put a moratorium on Death Row, covid stepped up and did the job for the victims of these monsters. Covid has helped plenty, thanks.
          Don’t tell me about my oath dude, you don’t have the standing. Miss USC Cheerleader is to busy weeping for deviants and killers to think about their victims. The record here is clear. Why do Social Justice types toss aside victims so easily, unless, it’s the victim of what they believe to be a bad cop? Why is every other bad guy or gal, deserving of your understanding? Somehow a victim?

  • First, WLA usually regurgitates some else’s crap so let’s don’t pretend there’s a lot of work being done here.
    Second, no matter the outcome, almost 1/2 of Americans will still not give a shit about prisoners, believe BLM is a Marxist/terror organization, and will still live America regardless of the fact the other 1/2 want to destroy it.

    Even with Obama, thankful as I am he is gone, the right did not go to the lengths the left has gone to with DJT. However, maybe this time the right does. Maybe it’s decided Biden isn’t their president.
    Maybe they don’t go to work supplying, protecting, employing, the country. Maybe they let shit run sideways very quick. Maybe that’s what’s needed.

    Maybe they will wait until the election but maybe that’s the end. The day the right decides it’s their turn to take to the street. Of course, the left will starve, murder each other, etc…but maybe that’s ok.

  • Fifi, you and your ilk are such hypocrites. You claim you fight for the victims and are quick to point out Celeste does not mention them. Yet, when one gang member does a drive-by and hits another gang member, isn’t one of them a victim. Your simpleton mind can’t figure this out, but some of those kids you constantly harass may also be or have been victims. But alas, all black kids are the same to you.

    And, as a point of clarification, the headline should read, Undocumented Stops Possibly Racist Cop. Make public that cop’s personnel record, like you are quick to dig out trash on any brother you kill. I’m sure that cop was an upstanding citizen, never uttered a racist word, never arrested anyone on trumped up charges, never smack a kid around. Only in your world.

    Finally, to answer your question, ACORN is still around. They have changed their name, still getting funding and still doing the lord’s work.

    ReaLOL, you bitch about the writing and the bias against portly uniformed men on this site, yet you keep coming for more. You need to join a battered woman’s support group. Your constant bitching and whining about the writing on this site is getting old. You write something, you set up your own blog. If you do, please share as I would like to share my thoughts on your blog.

    • We investigate those gangster to gangster shootings but are they victims, to me, nope. I could care less if they die, fuck em. Occupational hazard you witless bitch and you know it, just too big a sissy to say it.
      Race never matters to me, you play it because it’s all you can do, you’re not smart enough to bring anything else up. You’re the board Al Sharpton and we all know it.
      First gunfight I was in was with an MC Member you clown fuck, a big old White boy, truly can’t you come up with some new rap at some point?
      You are a dullard. I’m not only here, this is the least of the places I’m at. Seems I get to you though don’t I Little Missy?
      Like Celeste and Taylor, you care nothing about the real victims of the mayhem brought by the assholes who look just like you and think just like you. Just another cop hater fucking fraud in a world full of them. You’re lint, nothing more.

  • Guess mama Celeste didn’t like my comment again.
    Yet CF can blanket accuse everyone on this site as racist and celebrate the attempted murder of law enforcement.

    Here’s your future America.

  • Fifi, “We investigate?” Please! I don’t think you could solve a Nancy Drew mystery, even after reading the book. And, who can understand you. You care about victims, but not all victims. Maybe you should just say you care about some victims instead of being a high holy hypocrite.

    Race does not matter to you?! I know, I know, you have a black friend. Pull out the My-Friend-Is-Black card. Gunfight? Please! No doubt you shit in your confederate flag underwear if they shot at you. Are you as good a shot as the incompetent, scared shitless cops that shot the two little Latina ladies thinking if was the big scary black man Dorner? Gunfight?! You make me laugh.

    Let us move on, Deputy Dan.

    • I made it real clear, limp dick, that I don’t care and never will, about gangsters that get murdered and never will. Innocent victims I do care about, no matter their race you pos. You say stuff that’s just so mindless it’s a joke. How many crimes you handled, remind me puss? Death notifications you’ve made to a parent, spouse, child?
      Truly, you have no standing on any cop issue, none, you’re a troll and a weak ass one at that. Lint, like I said before, nothing more. Now as you squat to take a pee, remember, you don’t count, not a bit and never will in the world of real men and women doing really important shit. Not you, not ever.

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