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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

If vote is 'rigged,' where are Trump's Tampa Bay poll watchers?



If Donald Trump is convinced that the election is "rigged," then why do the Democrats have so many more poll watchers? That's certainly the case in Tampa Bay and South Florida during the early voting period.

Here's how it works. Republicans and Democrats, working for their parties or for individual candidates, sign up to be poll watchers, volunteer observers who can patrol early voting sites and keep an eye on voting who cannot wear any partisan badges and must abide by a state law prohibiting solicitation of voters within 100 feet of a polling place. The more poll watchers there are, the more people there are on alert for potential problems -- it's one more indication of a ground game.

In Pinellas, the Trump campaign has 44 poll watchers for the early voting period, and the Hillary Clinton campaign has more than twice as many, 94. The Marco Rubio Senate campaign has 91 poll watchers in Pinellas. (Campaigns and candidates have to apply for poll watcher credentials for Election Day, Nov. 8). Then there's Hillsborough, a bigger county with nearly 850,000 voters. Trump has 54 poll watchers and Clinton has 157.

This disparity isn't unique to Tampa Bay. Clinton and the Democrats also have far more poll watches in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, The Miami Herald has reported.

Trump's Florida campaign manager, Susie Wiles, said the numbers don't tell the whole story and that poll watchers who signed up for the local Republican Party and for Rubio are working on Trump's behalf as well. She added that with so much poll watcher activity in large counties, the campaign has focused more on smaller counties.

Even in strongly-Republican Lee County, a Trump stronghold where turnout has been among the highest in the state this election, 129 people applied to be early voting poll watchers, the News-Press of Fort Myers reports. Of that total, 52 work for Clinton, 42 work for the Lee County Democratic Party and 35 work for Trump.

[Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2016 4:36pm]


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