President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday with a message that could easily be construed as attempting to intimidate potential voters away from the polls ahead of Election Day.
"Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!" Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
Trump's tweet is reminiscent of a message that he sent out through Twitter last month, one in which he also seemed to imply that voters might be targeted by the government if they are suspected of voter fraud.
"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 tweeted.
Trump infamously created a voter fraud commission early in his presidency which, based on the rhetoric that preceded its inception, seemed to exist for the dual purposes of explaining away how he won in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote and creating an argument to justify tough Voter ID laws. After the commission had to disband, Trump tweeted in January that it was because "many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D."
He later added, "As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do.....except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!"
Democrats like Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, on the other hand, sued the commission and argued that "the commission’s superficial bipartisanship has been a facade."
Ironically, the real threat to voter rights has come from Republicans like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, both of whom are currently running for governor in their states. As journalist Greg Palast told Salon last month, "Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, purged 550,702 Georgians from the voter rolls in 2016 and 2017 — that is, canceled their registrations. I’m not guessing. After much resistance, Kemp turned over the names and addresses of each one of these purged voters in response to a threat of a federal lawsuit (which I filed in federal court in Atlanta and served on Kemp Friday).
He added, "Of these, we are certain that 340,134 were wrongly removed, with no notice that they were purged. I want to thank Salon for your report, which went viral, letting Georgians know my foundation had listed all the names of the purged at GregPalast.com. Unfortunately, there were only a couple of days left to re-register, but it appears that thousands did so."