People who follow Trump's advice and hang around watching polling places will be prosecuted, Nevada's attorney general says

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday.
  • Nevada’s attorney general said he would prosecute people who do what President Donald Trump suggested: Go to polling places to monitor votes being counted.
  • Aaron Ford said the president was encouraging voter intimidation. “Voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada,” Ford said. “Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”
  • Trump made the suggestion in his debate against Joe Biden on Tuesday, where he also refused to commit to accepting the election result and baselessly claimed – as he has for months – that mail-in voting is fraudulent.
  • Experts have said that voting by mail is safe and that the president may dispute the result if Biden wins with mail-in ballots.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Nevada’s attorney general said he would prosecute people who follow President Donald Trump’s advice to go to polling places and monitor votes being counted, accusing the president of encouraging voter intimidation.

During his first debate against the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, on Tuesday, Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the November election and repeated his unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting is open to widespread fraud.

“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen,” the president said.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford later tweeted: “Trump also told ‘his supporters’ to ‘go into the polls and watch very carefully.’ But he wasn’t talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation.

“FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”

Trump has for months been groundlessly casting doubt on the integrity of the election outcome. Experts have said he might use this narrative to dispute the result if he loses after mail-in ballots are counted.

More people are expected to vote by mail this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say fraud in the process is extremely rare and highly likely to be detected if it occurs.

Aaron D. FordEthan Miller/Getty ImagesNevada Attorney General Aaron Ford speaks in Las Vegas in October 2018.

Voting this way has been possible for decades, and some states have long used it as their primary voting method with no issues.

At Tuesday’s debate, Trump said people should go to watch votes being counted because people had apparently been prevented from doing so in Philadelphia.

“I am urging them to do it,” he said. “As you know, today there was a big problem: In Philadelphia, they went in to watch — they’re called poll watchers. It’s a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, that’s why.”

But as Business Insider’s Grace Panetta reported, legitimate poll officers in Philadelphia have not been prevented from doing their jobs as people do “in-person absentee” voting, the only type of in-person voting that has begun in the state so far.

Trump BidenBrian Snyder/ReutersTrump and Biden at the debate on Tuesday.

Trump also repeated a claim, without evidence, that ballots could be manipulated.

“I hope it’s going to be a fair election,” he said. “If it’s a fair election, I’m 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

The Trump administration has filed lawsuits in several states, including Nevada, to stop plans to make it easier for people to vote by mail.

Trump has also appeared to encourage people in North Carolina to vote twice, saying they should vote first by mail and then go to their polling station if their mail-in vote hadn’t yet been counted. Voting twice is illegal.

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