Does 2008 video give accurate picture of voter intimidation?

Story highlights

  • A 2008 video of Black Panthers standing outside a Philadelphia poll station went viral
  • But the data doesn't support tales of intimidation in that Philadelphia ward

Washington (CNN)The video shows two members of the New Black Panther Party, one of them holding a club, standing outside the entrance of a Philadelphia polling station.

The intentions of the men in the 2008 clip, which was shot by Steve Morse, then a Republican poll watcher, aren't clear. What the 80-second video doesn't show, however, is that the man holding the club was asked to leave by police, which he did without incident. And the other man was a certified poll watcher.
    The clip, however, went viral and was popular with conservative news outlets who published the recording as proof of widespread voter intimidation. And it remains a rallying cry for those claiming that elections are stolen due to voter intimidation, an allegation picked up by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his campaign, which has specifically warned of voter fraud in Philadelphia.
    But David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan political watchdog group, told CNN's Michael Smerconish the data doesn't support tales of intimidation in that Philadelphia ward.
    "When you go to the numbers, it demonstrates that what was reported to be happening here was not, in fact, happening here," he said. "First of all, in this ward, of which this is one small slice, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 2 to 1."
    Morse no longer watches polls, but believes the intimidation efforts Trump alleges aren't happening at the rate he describes.
    "In the context of this general election, this was very much a rarity," he said. "This is not the kind of thing you see every day."