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Across the nation instances of voter intimidation are fueled by the president’s words. Photo: AP
Across the nation instances of voter intimidation are fueled by the president’s words. Photo: AP

When did voter intimidation become the norm?

Somebody tell the president that voter intimidation is illegal. Please.

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Simply put, it’s the president who has made voter intimidation what is in the waning days of the 2020 Election. 

“You better vote for me, Puerto Rico,” or “Dammit, Minnesota, you better vote for me” are direct quotes made by Trump in the past few weeks, and they carry the same undertone: ‘or else.’

Voter suppression is one thing, and it carries its own baggage of racist tactics, thinly-veiled by officials as a means to avoid voter fraud.

But his voice is the fuel to those potential antagonists who would merit from the oppression of the long-suppressed voices of women, Black Americans, Latinos, and more.

And that’s not even to mention that “Puerto Rico” can’t vote in this presidential election. Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland can, but that’s another issue in and of itself.

At its core, the President’s words fuel cases all across the country, of people taking it into their own hands to intimidate potential voters.

Apart from the president’s clear threats to Puerto Rican voters in Florida, and voters in Minnesota, his words also echoed from Colorado to California, where Republican supporters are waging a war against the Democratic process, and making it clear violence may, in fact, be tolerated by them should it be to their benefit.

In New Mexico, a voting rights group is raising the alarm of caravans of Trump-flag-waving supporters intimidating voters in a predominantly-Latinx neighborhood in the Albuquerque area. 

In Philadelphia, the issue is plain. The Trump campaign has been videotaping voters while they deposit their ballots in drop boxes. 

The phenomenon forced Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Josh Shapiro,  to warn the public of the campaign’s actions, saying it could amount to illegal voter intimidation. 

“We won’t tolerate voter intimidation. We’re aware of reports of disturbances at drop boxes and most situations have been handled by local election officials. We are working with local officials, are prepared to respond if needed, and watching for patterns across the commonwealth,” Shapiro said on Twitter

Keeping tabs is important, especially where Latinx voters are concerned. 

At Julia de Burgos school, Philadelphia’s first bilingual polling site has been the least active satellite center since it’s opening. North Philadelphia, a largely Black and Latino population, is seeing some of the lowest-turnout numbers in the city. 

All the while, Trump campaigners with MAGA hats continue to make the rounds, door to door in North Philly. 

Already, Latinx voters are susceptible to voter suppression seen throughout the early voting process with incredibly long lines to vote, the limitation of voter drop-off sites, and the installment of illegal ballot boxes across Los Angeles County.

But voter intimidation is a danger in that it discourages voters to come out to the polls or ballot boxes in the first place. 

And in terms of Latinx voters, there is already a myriad of reasons why they may not show up to vote. 

For one, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately taken and sickened more Latinx lives than any other demographic, has many sheltered at home, afraid of contracting the virus.

The situation is dire to all potential voters, but for those who have historically not shown up at the polls, it’s even more so. Again, it all leads back to the president. 

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