Republicans have sounded the alarm over potential election interference in Philadelphia. Poll watchers have been locked out of polling places, and reports of illegal voting have surfaced.

Pennsylvania is one of the most crucial swing states in Tuesday’s election. With Donald Trump and Joe Biden tied in the polls there, a mass turnout of Democrats in the deep blue city of Philadelphia could propel the former vice president back into the White House. 

According to local Republicans, Democrats are doing their best to make that scenario a reality, by hook or by crook. Shortly after polls opened on Tuesday morning, videos and reports surfaced showing poll-watchers being barred from voting locations. 

These poll watchers are appointed by candidates, parties, or political action committees to watch over voting to ensure fairness and legality. In Pennsylvania, they are allowed to challenge the identity of voters and keep a list of their names. As long as the poll watcher carries a certificate signed by a county official, they can remain at the polling place until voting closes. During a presidential election, each party can send one watcher to each location.

These watchers must remain in a designated space to prevent voter intimidation. However, in at least one Philadelphia polling location, this space was so far removed from counting tables that the watchers couldn’t possibly observe any irregularities.

Fearful of what he termed a “rigged election,” President Donald Trump called for an “army” of poll watchers to show up on election day and report any potential fraud. During his first live debate with Joe Biden in September, Trump urged his supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen.” 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, however, attacked Trump for this statement, accusing the president of using his “army” to bring supporters into “black and brown communities to try and intimidate them.”

Shapiro’s own preference is seemingly with Biden. “If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose,” he tweeted on Monday, prompting an avalanche of condemnation from the right. “If a Republican Attorney General of a swing state took the position that it was impossible for Joe Biden to win a legitimate election in their state, the Democratic freakout would be *massive*,” GOP pollster Logan Dobson responded.

The Philadelphia GOP also claimed to have discovered multiple people inside the one voting booth, pro-Biden pamphlets handed out at the polling locations, and parents and children being allowed to vote for each other in the city of Pittsburgh, all of which are illegal acts. Voting machines have also been reported broken in what the party called “pro-Trump strongholds.”

The situation in Philadelphia, though alarming to Republicans, is not unprecedented. As the City of Brotherly Love geared up to vote in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump warned that the city would be a hotbed of fraud, and sent friendly poll watchers to the city. Four years previously, the Republican Party claimed that 75 of its poll watchers had been turned away from voting locations in Philadelphia. 

Hillary Clinton won more than 82 percent of the vote in Philadelphia County in 2016, while Barack Obama won 85 percent in 2012.

Speaking at a campaign rally over the weekend, Trump promised to take legal action if he deems the vote in Pennsylvania to be unfair. “As soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” he told reporters before an appearance in North Carolina on Sunday. 

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