Election 2017

Philly officials dismiss neo-Nazi Election Day threats

DA Seth Williams “would like to advise any possible neo-Nazis coming to the city” to “think twice.”

Philadelphia Election Day Task Force press conference

Philadelphia Election Day Task Force press conference

Cassie Owens / Billy Penn
Cassie Owens, Reporter/Curator

White supremacists say they’re coming to Philly on Election Day. District Attorney Seth Williams doesn’t seem worried.

Politico reported this morning that Andrew Anglin, a founder of the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, is mobilizing poll watchers to come here to combat voter fraud. They also plan to give weed and alcohol in Philly’s underserved neighborhoods so that residents will stay home and skip voting, the article detailed.

“We also will have stationary cameras hidden at polling locations in Philadelphia,” a Daily Stormer rep told Politico in an email, “to monitor anyone that comes in to vote and make sure that the same people are not voting at multiple locations. If we see people voting in multiple locations the footage will be submitted to the FEC as well as put out on social media to undermine the legitimacy of Clinton should she steal the election.”

Following a Wednesday morning press conference about an Election Day Task Force, Williams, as well as City Commissioners Anthony Clark and Al Schmidt, told Billy Penn they hadn’t heard about this white supremacist scheme to bring poll watchers to Philly. Still, Williams says they’re ready.

We welcome people to come see our election process and see how it runs,” Williams said. But “we hope that no one will come to Philadelphia to intimidate voters.”

If they do, the DA added later, they should watch their step.

“As the chief law enforcement officer of Philadelphia, I would like to advise any possible neo-Nazis that are coming to the city that they should really think twice about what they’re going to do,” said Williams. He continued that they are ready to ensure the public safety of everyone.

“We will respond to complaints of intimidation with a prosecutor and a detective, and if [needed] make an arrest.”

While ADAs and detectives are advised to respect that voters bring along cameras, (for legal use that is, remember: in PA, you cannot take a selfie in the polling booth), Williams said they would be on alert for “covert acts.”

Peter Berson, the assistant district attorney who’s leading the newly launched task force, echoed Williams. “We are prepared.” Even for neo-Nazis? “Including neo-Nazis. They will have to abide by our [state] laws one way or another,” he replied.

As we’ve reported, every ADA and detective in the city who isn’t on assignment at court may be available to monitor polling places. The district attorney would not say whether they were sending people specifically to the much-discussed 59 divisions that saw no votes for Romney in 2012 or any other areas in particular.

We don’t want to tip our hand,” he told Billy Penn. But he did say that some of their prosecutors and detectives would be “strategically deployed before polling opens.”

If you encounter any problems voting, or someone is bullying or preventing you from voting, call the task force at 215-686-9641, -9643 or -9644.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2017 stories.

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