The Guardian: Two decades after the ‘Brooks Brothers riot’, experts fear graver election threats
The Guardian: Two decades after the 'Brooks Brothers riot', experts fear graver election threats
In late November 2000, hundreds of mostly middle-aged male protesters, dressed in off-the-peg suits and cautious ties, descended on the Miami-Dade polling headquarters in Florida. Shouting, jostling, and punching, they demanded that a recount of ballots for the presidential election be stopped.
The protesters, many of whom were paid Republican operatives, succeeded. A recount of ballots in Florida was abandoned. What became known as the Brooks Brothers riot went down in infamy, and George W Bush became president after a supreme court decision.
In 2020, fears are growing that the US could see an unwanted sequel to the Brooks Brothers debacle – but with more violent participants.
After a year in which armed Donald Trump supporters have besieged state houses across the country and shot and killed Black Lives Matter protesters – and in which Trump has said he will only lose if the election is rigged – a 2020 reboot of the Brooks Brothers stunt could be dangerous. …
Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, an elections watchdog group, said she believes disruption of the voting process is unlikely, but she shared the concerns of others that the counting process could be at risk.
“There are strong laws on voter intimidation,” said Albert. “Counting comes into regular laws around disturbing the police or being in a group; there’s nothing specific on that issue. That’s not to say laws don’t cover it, they do – various laws cover being a nuisance but how that’s interpreted in the situation is going to vary by location.”
Albert stressed that she did not believe it was probable there would be altercations at vote-counting sites, but she said: “I’m fearful of violence in a way that I was not in 2000.”
“We have seen that the rhetoric on the right, both from the president and Republican lawmakers, has encouraged people to take up arms. And whether directly or indirectly, encouraged violence. And that was not happening from George Bush.”