Sunday, October 30, 2016

BREAKING: Trump's* Arizona Election Day "Exit Polling" Army Larger Than Other Swing States

(UPDATE, 10pm: Stone has added 17 new exit pollsters in Arizona over the 2 1/2 hours since this article was published (93 total). Also, although they have not yet been trained, the Arizona exit pollers have tallied 8 votes - 6 for Trump and 2 for Clinton.)

Arizona election day voters have a better chance of being greeted by a "Stop the Steal Exit Poller" than in other swing states. Donald Trump's behind the scenes political trickster Roger Stone* has signed up 76 people to monitor "pre-selected precincts" across the state.

The Stone Stop The Steal/Vote Protectors operation has apparently been scaled down since the Huffington Post ran an article on the official-looking badge generator designed for Trump supporters to video, monitor and exit poll on Election Day. (Stone is now claiming that the badge generator was from some "old version" of the site; however, Arizona's Politics confirmed that it was still operational immediately after the article was published online early on October 26.)

The initial "goal" of Stop the Steal was to have 5 "exit pollsters" for each of Arizona's 9 Congressional Districts. That goal was quickly surpassed after the Huffington Post's article, and the goal was increased over the weekend to approximately 12 per district. (Arizona's Politics confirmed that only about one dozen had signed up as of early on the 26th.)

Congressional District 9 has the most registered "exit pollsters" signed up (14), while CD3 only has 4. However, the average per CD is more than 8. Comparatively, other states that are toss-ups surveyed by Arizona's Politics range from 2.5/CD (Iowa) to 7.9/CD (Florida). Even Pennsylvania, where Trump has spoken out the most about getting supporters to monitor voting, only 136 have signed up across the state's 18 Congressional districts.

Nationwide, 2,297 people had registered on the website, as of 7:30pm Sunday.  Stop the Steal's website does not indicate whether they will ask registered "pollsters" to travel to "pre-selected precincts" that may be out of their home district.

Stop the Steal and Roger Stone have promised to train everyone who has volunteered. On his radio show this weekend, Stone said "our interviewers are being trained" and that the goal is a "completely neutral, scientifically valid exit poll." One registered pollster tells Arizona's Politics that he has "received nothing yet from them, and the website only gives us a summary of what each state's law is related to electioneering near a polling place." (Arizona's Politics is unable to see what is in the "Citizen's Toolbox" without registering.)

However, in the public area, in the News section, there is an official-sounding post that urges StoptheSteal'ers to videotape vans/buses coming and leaving from the polling areas. "Collecting evidence," is how he puts it.

In Arizona, the Republican and Democratic parties are both permitted to have one poll observer inside each precinct. Anyone is permitted to "exit poll" (or, campaign) outside the 75-foot perimeter; however, anything that  might be considered intimidation - whether it is in the form of uniforms, official-looking notices, videotaping, etc. - will receive close attention from the Election Board's marshall, party observers and could be restricted.

Arizona's Politics has received emails from both the Arizona Republican and Democratic poll observing operations. Both are seeking to recruit attorneys to monitor the polling places on election day.

(By the way, this reporter has actually conducted exit polling for a major news organization... many (32) years ago, before the nation's media had even formed their exit-polling consortium. That informative experience, coupled with knowledge gleaned over the years from several different perspectives, permits me to say unequivocally that Stone's Stop the Steal has zero chance of turning into a "completely neutral, scientifically valid exit poll" between now and election day. Surely, Stone knows this, as well, and this is just another in his long line of political tricks. No  treats.)

*Stone claims that he is "working with Stop the Steal". It really is his organization, however. It even features this wonderful poster and greeting from Stone.  Stop the Steal was created by Stone in the Spring when it appeared that Sen. Ted Cruz and #NeverTrumpers were trying to gain a majority of delegates to oppose Trump at the Republican National Convention. Stone was an early advisor to Trump's campaign, his foreign lobbying partner Paul Manafort later chaired the Trump campaign briefly, and Stone has run his activities officially off to the side (typically in a dark corner). Stone has been described as a "self-admitted political hitman," and dates his "black arts" activities back to Richard Nixon's infamous 1972 re-election campaign.

Stop the Steal is affiliated with Stone's pro-Trump Super PAC, the Committee to Restore America's Greatness. One of the interesting legal and accounting consultants is occasional Stone-related attorney Paul Rolf Jensen. The Trump campaign committee has also utilized Mr. Jensen's services. 

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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