Rachel Maddow calls out Republicans' dirty election tricks

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow discusses efforts by Republicans to trick and intimidate people out of voting

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 23, 2018 11:36AM (EDT)

Rachel Maddow (Credit: MSNBC)
Rachel Maddow (Credit: MSNBC)

tweet sent out by President Donald Trump on Saturday seemingly attempted to suppress voter turnout in next month's midterm elections. "All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal," Trump warned.

On Monday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow seemed aghast at Trump's tweet, asking "Really? The president is promising 'maximum penalties' in case of prosecutions for any crimes like that? Is the president allowed to get involved in any criminal cases like that?"

Maddow then went on a tear about various Republican efforts to trick or intimidate people out of voting throughout history. She described how this history of "intimidation and threatening behavior and threatening messaging" existed not only in the recent past but as far back as the 1920s when a biplane dropped leaflets over minority districts that attempted to intimidate African American voters from going to the polls.

"This past week a Republican state legislator in Kansas, who is supporting Republican candidate Kris Kobach for governor... this year, this Republican state legislature just got dinged, just got a whole bunch of unfavorable press statewide, for a Facebook posting in which he said this: 'Make sure you know when to vote! Republicans vote Nov. 6! Democrats vote Nov. 8! #RemainRed'" Maddow told her viewers. Although she acknowledged that this could have been a joke, it is noteworthy that Kobach himself (currently Kansas' secretary of state) has pioneered voter suppression methods that have been used throughout the country.

Maddow then turned her metaphorical guns onto Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who in 2016 sent out a mailer to his constituents that gave them the wrong day for voting.

"Now, in 2018, Lee Zeldin has just done the exact same thing again," Maddow exclaimed. "Which is actually sort of making it easy for the local paper in Long Island, which is called Newsday, they just get to keep writing the same story about Lee Zeldin every couple of years. Honestly, it is almost word for word the exact same story."

The MSNBC host then cited a Seattle Times story which described how conservatives in the state of Washington had been caught sending out flyers characterizing various Democratic candidates in federal and local elections as insufficiently progressive and urging voters to write in the names of supposedly more left-wing alternatives. The Republicans engaging in that dirty trick may have been inspired by how Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, managed to deny electoral votes to the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.

Maddow finally mentioned infamous billboards posted in Ohio and Wisconsin during the 2012 presidential election in predominantly minority and low income neighborhoods. The billboards said, "Voter fraud is a felony! Up to 3 1/2 years & $10,000 fine." After a sufficient outcry was made against them, the billboards were taken down by the company that put them up (the donor who paid for them was kept anonymous), although Maddow noted that if the media hadn't covered the issue so vigorously, they might have remained up through Election Day.

Watch below, via MSNBC:

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Donald Trump Kris Kobach Lee Zeldin Rachel Maddow Voter Fraud Voter Intimidation