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  • Election Experts: Trump Ally Roger Stone’s Exit Polling Plan Smacks Of “Intimidation”

    Expert: "There Is Little Doubt That Any Such ‘Exit Polling’ Would Be Extremely Biased"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Election experts and polling veterans tell Media Matters that the plan by longtime Donald Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone to unleash hundreds of untrained “exit poll” watchers in search of vote theft on Election Day risks intimidating voters in the targeted communities. They also explain that unprofessional exit polling is a nonsensical way to discover alleged voter fraud and vote rigging, which is "extremely rare" in the first place.

    Stone, an ardent conspiracy theorist and devoted Trump ally, has for months been warning that Democrats are planning to “rig” and “steal” the election for Hillary Clinton. (Trump has echoed this warning in numerous campaign rallies.)

    Stone heads the 527 group Stop the Steal, which has announced plans to conduct “targeted EXIT-POLLING in targeted states and targeted localities that we believe the Democrats could manipulate based on their local control, to determine if the results of the vote have been skewed by manipulation.” The Guardian, in a piece that quoted several experts raising concerns about Stone’s proposal, noted that Stone and his group plan to “conduct exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Richmond and Fayetteville – all locations in pivotal swing states." Stone has been recruiting volunteers for the project from far-right sources like the audience of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio program. 

    After the Huffington Post raised concerns about plans listed on Stop the Steal to have election-watchers wear official-looking ID badges and videotape inside polling places, Stone said he “ordered them taken down” from the site and stressed that he would “operate within the confines of election law.”

    But the underlying plan to conduct amateur exit polling is still extremely problematic, several election law experts and polling veterans told Media Matters.  

    “From what I’ve read about it, this doesn’t sound like exit polling of the traditional sense, it sounds to me as if there is a targeting of certain communities, primarily minority communities and we fear this is going to have an intimidating effect,” Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said in an interview. “Voters are supposed to be free in their voting. This seems to be pointed in absolutely the wrong direction.”

    He later added, “We certainly do have a fear of intimidation when they focus on areas of disproportionately large minority populations. It is just wrong. It has an intimidating effect.”

    Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor and author of Voice of the People: Elections and Voting Behavior in the United States, said he was “very skeptical about the accuracy of any exit polling conducted by Mr. Stone and his allies. He is a well-known right-wing provocateur and there is little doubt that any such ‘exit polling’ would be extremely biased.”

    “The kind of vote fraud Trump and Stone have been warning about is, in fact, extremely rare. There are lots of real problems with the way elections are conducted in the U.S., but that is not one of them," Abramowitz said. 

    Rick Hasen, a professor and political campaign expert at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, likened Stone’s plan to a “goon squad.”

    ”It does not sound like a sensible exit polling strategy,” he said. “Why target only these nine cities? Exit polling is best to get a snapshot of the electorate, not to ferret out supposed voter fraud. Impersonation fraud -- the kind of fraud Trump and his allies have been talking about -- is extremely rare and I can’t find evidence it has been used to try to sway an election at least since the 1980s.”

    Richard Benedetto, professor of journalism at American University School of Public Affairs, disputed that any of Stone’s methods could wind up helping a legal challenge of the election results.

    “It won’t be an admissible thing in court, you need to be able to prove real fraud, not hearsay stuff,” Benedetto said. “That the people who voted were not the actual people, you have to have evidence of that. There is a lot of exit polling that goes on and most of it is pretty bad, most of it is unscientific. You have to have a scientific sample.”

    Lorraine Minnite, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, Camden, conducted exit polls in New York as a political science professor at Barnard College. She said Stone’s lack of credibility hurts any such effort by him to examine the voting.

    “It doesn’t sound like what they are doing is an exit poll,” she said in an interview. “He is not a credible person when it comes to elections and campaign tactics.”

    As for claims of voter fraud, she said, “That’s not factually accurate and there is no evidence to support a claim like that. It doesn’t make any sense. If what is happening is voter imposters, I don’t understand how somebody doing an exit poll is going to uncover that.” 

    Nate Persily is a Stanford Law School professor and elections expert who also served as the Senior Research Director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration after the 2012 election. He called in person voter fraud “incredibly rare.”

    “In person voter fraud at polling places … is a terribly inefficient (and easily discoverable) way to rig an election,” Persily said via email. “It would require enlisting hordes of voters to go from polling place to polling place pretending to be someone they are not.”

  • Mark Halperin’s “Truly Laughable” Interview With Donald Trump

    Halperin’s Interview Fails The Standards He And His Co-Host Set For Other Journalists

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect host Mark Halperin previewed an interview with Donald Trump scheduled to air Sunday on Showtime’s The Circus. The interview has been roundly criticized in the media for Halperin’s soft questioning of Trump.

    Halperin appeared with Trump following a publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. and asked Trump questions like “For people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great,” and “What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    The preview ignored recent controversies surrounding Trump’s candidacy, including Trump adviser Newt Gingrich’s sexually charged attack on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly which Trump praised as “amazing” during the same speech that Halperin categorized in his interview as “great.”

    The Daily Beast described Halperin’s interview as “truly laughable” while highlighting some of the more ridiculous questions:

    How do you get Donald Trump to talk to you with less than two weeks to go before Election Day? Tell him exactly what he wants to hear. That’s been the approach by Fox News’ Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh.

    And now we can add Mark Halperin to that list.

    The co-host of Bloomberg Politics’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus approached Trump after he delivered a ribbon-cutting speech to open his new Washington, D.C. hotel on Wednesday and asked some truly laughable questions of the Republican nominee.

    For instance, “People who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great?” Yes, he does, but this one wasn’t enough in the “Make America Great Again” spirit to rile up his rally crowds.

    Then there was this one: “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls you’re winning, some you’re behind. We have a new poll where you are up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    Halperin’s interview even fell below his own journalistic standard given the pressure that he and his co-host John Heilemann have placed on journalists to question Trump about his failure to release his tax returns. Previously, Halperin called it “one hundred percent” the media’s obligation to continue asking Trump about his tax returns while challenging the media “to all keep asking” Trump about it. Heilemann even called on the media to question Trump about his returns “every time we sit in front of him,” and declaring it the responsibility of anyone who interviews Trump to “make it clear to him that it’s not okay that he violate what has become a norm in American elections.”

    Halperin has come under intense criticism during this election season for acting as a bonafide Trump apologist, including brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, portraying Trump’s request of Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails as bad behavior by Clinton and Trump, and defending Trump’s racist attacks against American judge of Mexican descent, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by declaring “Mexico isn’t a race.”

  • Fox Boosts Trump’s “Rigged Voting” Claims With Right-Wing Zombie Myth Of Vote Flipping

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News figures are hyping unverified stories of electronic voting machines allegedly switching voters’ votes for president amid cries from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of “large scale voter fraud.” In fact, “just about every voting technology expert” says voting machines are not rigged to flip votes, and instead “human error” and aging machines often lead to incorrect vote choices, which can be fixed. Conservatives hyped alleged vote flipping during the 2012 election as well.

  • Conservative Media Are Already Calling For Clinton’s Impeachment

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS


    With less than two weeks until Election Day, conservative media figures have started pushing the idea of impeaching Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the event she wins the presidency. Citing her decision to use a private email server during her time as secretary of state, they say she “should be impeached” and argue congressional Republicans should leave the option on the table as they investigate her.

    Their message echoes some congressional Republicans, including Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), who said, “If all the things we've seen are true and they come out the way I think they will, then we should impeach her,” and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who said, “With respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November, because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    FBI Director James Comey, at the conclusion of the FBI probe into Clinton’s emails, said the agency had determined that “no charges are appropriate in this case.”

    Conservative Media Call For Clinton Impeachment

    Radio Host Rush Limbaugh: Clinton “Is The Most Prepared To Be Impeached In Advance Of Any Presidential Candidate This Country Has Ever Had.” On the October 5 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh argued that “Hillary Clinton is the most prepared to be impeached in advance of any presidential candidate this country has ever had! Hillary Clinton will be elected to be impeached,” adding, “By the way, I'm not being glib. If elected, Hillary Clinton could be impeached based on what we already know, and there's plenty more yet to be discovered. Emails and other documents that could be used in impeachment proceedings are waiting to be found like Easter eggs laid out for 3-year-olds.” [RushLimbaugh.com, 10/5/16]

    National Review’s Andrew McCarthy: “Mrs. Clinton Should Be Impeached.” National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who has spent years arguing for President Obama’s impeachment, wrote that “Mrs. Clinton should be impeached” for “mishandling classified information and withholding government records.” [National Review, 8/23/16]

    Judicial Watch President: “Impeachment” Of Clinton “Is Something That’s Relevant.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told NBC News that if Clinton is elected, “You’re going to still have a clamor for a serious criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s conduct with respect to her emails and the [Clinton] Foundation” and “I know this generation of Republican leaders is loath to exercise these tools, but impeachment is something that’s relevant.” NBC noted Fitton has “criticized GOP lawmakers for failing to pre-emptively impeach Clinton,” and quoted him saying, “They see [the oversight process] as an opportunity in some measure to keep their opponents off-kilter, but they don’t want to do the substantive and principled work to truly hold corrupt politicians, or the administration, or anyone accountable.” [NBCNews.com, 10/26/16]

    Radio Host Steve Deace: “Republicans Should Promise They’ll Impeach Hillary.” Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace said that in order “to hold on to their congressional majorities, Republicans should promise voters they’ll impeach Hillary by 2018.” [Twitter, 10/17/16]

    Radio Host Mark Levin: Clinton “Must Be Impeached For High Crimes And Misdemeanors.” Radio host Mark Levin alleged that Clinton “has attempted to cover-up and obstruct her Espionage Act violations in hopes of winning this election” so she “must be prosecuted, but she won't be; if elected, however, she must be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors in what is and will be continuing revelations about her criminality.” [Facebook, 10/22/16]