Submitted by Nerlyn Pierson, Greenwich
In 1946, a mob of angry white people armed with guns prevented Black voting rights activist Medgar Evers from voting in his hometown of Decatur, Mississippi.
In 1981, the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent armed, off-duty police officers to polling locations in predominantly Black communities in a highly contested governor’s race in New Jersey claiming they were their “patrolling” for voter fraud.
And, in 2020, Trump vowed to send law enforcement to polling locations under the same disproven claim of voter fraud.
The RNC and the CT GOP heard Trump’s battle cry, and they answered by calling for an “Army of Trump” to monitor polling places in CT for signs of voter fraud even though there is extensive research and
evidence that voter fraud is very rare and virtually non-existent.
Let’s be clear, the CT GOP’s “Army of Trump” is yet another shameful attempt by the CT GOP to disenfranchise and intimidate voters under the pretext of alleged voter fraud. And, at a time when Trump is calling on right-wing extremists and militia groups to “stand back and stand by”
and fears and anger is stoked by Trump and his enablers, the presence of armed individuals angered by false claims of voter fraud at the polls on Election Day is a real possibility not just in our state, but also in our town.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Attorney General William Tong and Chief Attorney Richard J Coleangelo Jr. made clear that federal and state laws offer protections against voter intimidations. They also made clear that voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated in CT.
And, although CT does not explicitly prohibit guns at polling locations, it does prohibit guns on school grounds. Ten of the 12 polling locations in Greenwich are on school grounds. Anyone with a gun at any of these 10 polling locations would be violating the law.
Many will say, “Not here, not in Greenwich.” And, while we can hope reason and decency will prevail, we must also acknowledge that given the rhetoric coming from Trump and the CT GOP, it’s a continuing rally cry to their base and supporters aimed to disenfranchise the vote in every corner of our state, including ours.
As such, now is NOT the time for our town leadership to remain silent. Fred Camillo, our First Selectman, and Greenwich Police Chief Jim Heavey should publicly affirm their commitment to ensure that every Greenwich voter will be able to vote safely without fear, threat or intimidation on Election Day. They should also make clear to our community that local officials will enforce gun and election laws to protect all voters and respond appropriately if it occurs.
Dan Quigley, Chair of the Republican Town Committee, and each of the four Republican candidates should finally break their silence and publicly condemn Trump and the CT GOP’s attempts to use the disproven and inaccurate justification of voter fraud as a guise for suppressing the vote in Greenwich and in Connecticut.
They should make clear that the CT GOP strategy of voter suppression will not be tolerated here in Greenwich. If they fail to do that, then there’s no question that the Greenwich GOP stands with Trump in his efforts to disenfranchise voters and undermine the legitimacy of our election.
Every voter, whether Republican, Independent, Democratic or Unaffiliated, should have the right to exercise their constitutional right to vote without fear and intimidation this Election Day. Any political party, candidate or town leader unwilling to publicly stand by this principle, stands with those whose clear aim are to undermine your right to vote.
Let’s all hope that we have an uneventful Election Day here in Greenwich on November 3rd .
But, whatever happens, don’t let anyone take away your power, your voice, your vote on Election Day.
Editor’s note: Deadline for Letters to the Editor in support of local candidates in the Nov 3, 2020 election have a deadline of Oct 26, 2020 at 12:00 noon.