Donald Trump has asked his supporters to observe voters on November 8 to make sure nothing shady goes down. This is clearly a form of voter intimidation — and Hillary Clinton isn't having it. The Democratic nominee has proposed a solution to stop the harassment of Latino voters, particularly those who are Spanish-speaking, on election day.
Last week, the Clinton campaign launched a 24-hour Spanish-speaking hotline where Latinos can report intimidation and/or voter suppression.
Latinos can text "VOTA" to 47246 or call (919) 432-4419 and press two. Latino voters will be asked for more information about the issue they've encountered at the voting booth. Assistance will then be provided within 24 hours.
Jess Morales, digital organizing director for the Hillary for America campaign, told Fusion that the hotline is not a direct response to Trump's comments regarding voting poll observers. However, she did confirm that the campaign created the service because some Republican-controlled states have made it difficult for some Americans to vote.
"It’s really important for us to make sure that every person who wants to vote in the country is able to vote," Morales told Fusion.
Several states have strict voting ID laws including Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin, Arizona, North Dakota and Ohio. New restrictive voting laws have also been enacted in Texas and North Carolina.
It's no coincidence that the immigrant population has increased in these states. These marginalized Americans have the right to vote, but often feel intimidated by the process.
And Trump's comments just add fuel to the fire.
While campaigning in Manheim, Pennsylvania, on October 1, Trump told his supporters to keep a close eye on polling places.
"You've got to go out," Trump said. "You've got to go out. And you've got to get your friends. And you've got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania. Certain areas. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about. So go and vote, and then go check out areas. Because a lot of bad things happen. And we don't want to lose for that reason. We don't want to lose, but we especially we don't want to lose for that reason. So go over and — watch. And watch carefully."This is not the first election where voters were subjected to intimidation.
Writer Ian Millhiser noted at ThinkProgress that voter intimidation has been documented for centuries.
"America has a long and unfortunate history of angry white mobs traveling to predominantly African American polling places in order to intimidate voters," Millhiser wrote. "The Ku Klux Klan started using this tactic not long after the Civil War."
In 1870, the 15th Amendment granted all men the right to vote, but Black Americans weren't allowed to vote until Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women didn't have the right to vote until 1920.
All Americans have the right to vote — and that includes immigrants. That's the reason why Clinton's campaign created the hotline.
"It was a no-brainer that we should launch this campaign," Morales told Fusion.
There are many resources available to Latinos who want to register to vote. Yet, voter turnout is still very low, and new state laws that discourage immigrant registration may be one of the reasons why, according to The Washington Post.
That's why Clinton's hotline is so vital, according to Morales. Her campaign is not only addressing voter intimidation concerns, but is also encouraging Latino voters to head to the polls.
"It's really important for us to make sure that every person who wants to vote in the country is able to vote."