Donald Trump, a scabies outbreak in your freshman dormitory, has done very little to prepare for a win—like running ads or get-out-the-vote operations, for example, or learning which U.S. president invaded Afghanistan—but he has done quite a bit to prepare for his loss, recently telling CNBC that he would take a “nice long vacation” if Clinton prevails, and, more troublingly, informing his supporters with clairvoyant gusto that his opponent will commit election fraud (a nearly impossible feat).
At a Pennsylvania event on Friday, Trump claimed that if Pennsylvania goes to Clinton, it will be because “certain areas” of the state cheated on her behalf; earlier in August, Trump began priming his supporters in the concept of a “rigged” election, a suggestion that threatens to corrode the functionality of our political system. This assertion also “channels a conviction that has deep roots in our culture: A woman could never really win, not over a man,” Rebecca Traister wrote for New York Magazine last week. And it’s not only women who are cheaters; “certain areas,” the LA Times has pointed out, is very clearly a coded nod towards minority populations.
In Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver noted that Pennsylvania is polling for Clinton and has gone to a Democratic candidate since 1988—but no matter! Trump has encouraged his supporters to become “Trump Election Observers,” a concept no less scary than it sounds.
Oliver signed up to see what being an “election observer” involved. He was redirected to a donation page and received an email from the campaign saying “We are going to do everything we are legally allowed to do to stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.”
“Which is troubling, because I’m not sure Donald Trump knows what he’s legally allowed to do!” Oliver exclaimed. “His own attorney had to apologize for saying ‘you cannot rape your own spouse.’”
According to the Washington Post, this strategy could get the Republican Party in legal hot water by potentially violating a prohibition against voter intimidation. And it’s even possible, according to election law expert Rick Hasen of UC Irvine, is that this is just a very inflammatory (and legally risky) method for collecting email addresses:
“I wouldn’t put it past Trump to say, ‘Oh, well, this was just a way of gathering names for our fundraising efforts. We didn’t really mean it, that we’re going to do this election observation.’”
Good times, everybody!