Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Democrats in legal bid to stop Republican 'voter intimidation'

Published 05/11/2016

An ballot is cast in early voting in San Jose, California (AP)
An ballot is cast in early voting in San Jose, California (AP)

Lawyers for Democrats all over the US are filing lawsuits claiming Republicans and the Donald Trump's campaign are pushing supporters to intimidate and confront voters on election day.

Mr Trump has called on his supporters to act as "election observers" in certain areas to help prevent fraud.

In Ohio, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Mr Trump's campaign and his friend and informal adviser Roger Stone, barring them from harassing or intimidating voters during Tuesday's election.

But in Arizona, a judge denied a similar injunction request.

Democratic Party lawyers argued in a New Jersey court on Friday that the Republican Party was co-ordinating with Mr Trump to intimidate voters, accusations the Grand Old Party (GOP) denies in that state and in five others where Democrats are waging similar battles.

Cases being heard in:

NEW JERSEY

The case is different than the ones filed in the states as it relates to a consent decree in place since 1982 regulating what the Republican National Committee can do when it comes to issues of ballot security.

The consent decree was created after Democrats claimed that the RNC helped intimidate black voters during New Jersey's 1981 gubernatorial - governorship - election.

The RNC and New Jersey's Republican Party allegedly had off-duty law enforcement officers stand at polling places in urban areas wearing "National Ballot Security Task Force" armbands and some had guns visible.

The RNC admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to the decree to settle the case. The decree regulates only work done by the RNC and is due to end next year. The Democratic National Committee wants it extended another eight years, but needs to convince a judge that the RNC has broken the 34-year-old rules.

Joshua Kaul, representing the Democratic National Committee, told the judge in Newark on Friday that Mr Trump had "repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts" in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. Mr Kaul said the RNC was participating.

Bobby Burchfield, for Republicans, said party volunteers were engaging in normal poll watching and Democrats had not found one instance where someone was intimidated or prevented from voting.

Judge John Vazquez did not immediately rule.

OHIO

Issuing a temporary restraining order against Mr Trump's campaign and his friend Roger Stone, US District Judge James Gwin said anyone who engaged in intimidation or harassment inside or near Ohio polling places would face contempt of court charges, regardless of political alliance.

The judge's written order blocks activities from both campaigns that include unauthorised poll watching, the admonishing or questioning of voters, and taking photos or recording voters inside or near polling places.

The Ohio Democratic Party had claimed in its lawsuit that the Ohio GOP, the Trump campaign, Mr Stone and Mr Stone's political action committee Stop the Steal were conspiring to suppress minorities in urban areas from casting ballots on Tuesday.

The lawsuit cited comments made by Mr Trump and his surrogates about voter fraud and efforts by Democrats to steal the election.

MICHIGAN

The Michigan Democratic Party filed a lawsuit on Friday asking a judge to order the state Republican Party not to intimidate voters on election day.

Democrats sued in Detroit federal court, seeking an injunction against Republicans, Donald Trump's presidential campaign and GOP allies. The court filing listed no specific allegations in Michigan.

Republican spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said the lawsuit is "insulting and shameful." She called it a "desperate act" by supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

NEVADA

A judge in Las Vegas will hold a hearing on Monday before deciding whether to restrict election day exit polling in Nevada by Stop the Steal.

Paul Jensen, representing Mr Stone, said he needed time to prepare because he only recently received legal notice about a lawsuit claiming Mr Stone was encouraging what Nevada Democrats called "vigilante voter intimidation" by exit-pollers.

US District Judge Richard Boulware said he was also keeping time open for a Tuesday hearing, in case allegations of voter intimidation come up during morning voting.

ARIZONA

A judge in Phoenix refused to issue an injunction sought by Democrats that would have ordered Republicans not to engage in illegal voter intimidation tactics at the polls next week.

US District Judge John Tuchi's ruling said the state Democratic party had not shown evidence that the Republicans were conspiring to conduct illegal voter intimidation. He said he was willing to revisit the issue if evidence of voter intimidation appeared.

PENNSYLVANIA

A judge has scheduled arguments in Pennsylvania for Monday.

AP

Press Association

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph