Donald Trump has urged his supporters to check closely for fraud and irregularities at the polling places. He wants them to make sure the voting is on the “up and up,” and he implies that there is a reason it might not be: he believes that there is a “big, big problem” which apparently “nobody has the guts to talk about.”
Rick Hasen, among others, has criticized Trump for claiming the widespread existence of a problem—impersonation voting fraud—which in fact occurs with extreme infrequency, and he worries that Trump supporters’ response to the demand that they somehow solve this “big, big problem” may intimidate voters, deterring some from exercising their right to vote. Hasen’s concern is fully justified.
This is not to suggest Trump or any other candidate should not expect, or should not do what he or she can, to help bring about an orderly election in which the rules, including the eligibility rules, are followed. There are any number of defensible “protect the vote” programs that his or any campaign, or political party, might put in place. But normally, the campaign or party defines the problem with precision, trains observers, and deploys lawyers to go about the task capably and responsibly. Instead Trump seems intent on issuing a alarm that any supporter can interpret as he or she wishes. The choice for Trump is not between measures to protect the vote and none at all, but between a genuine,competently structured program of voter protection and a wild political swing. That he chose the latter is deeply unfair to the voters.