The saga of the 2016 presidential election is continuing today with the news that Donald Trump is being sued by four states for allegedly violating federal voter suppression laws. The basis of the lawsuits, which have been levied by Democratic Party officials, is Donald Trump’s controversial plan to enlist “Trump Election Observers,” otherwise known as poll watchers. According to Donald Trump and his campaign website, registered voters (presumably Republicans) can register to be volunteer Trump Election Observers on election day.
The job of Donald Trump’s team of election day poll watching volunteers?
According to Trump’s site, he needs help to stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging the election.”
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump and his call for poll watchers has infuriated many on the left, and now it has resulted in allegations of voter intimidation that go beyond Republican candidate Donald Trump himself to the entirety of the RNC.
As Reuters reports, Democratic officials allege that Donald Trump’s poll-watching efforts are deliberately designed to harass minority voters in critical areas; as such, lawsuits against Trump and his controversial campaign tactics have been filed in the battleground states of Nevada, Arizona, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. According to the lawsuits, Donald Trump and the RNC are engaging in a “campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” that directly violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In addition, the lawsuits filed against Trump and the RNC allege that Donald Trump’s army of volunteer poll watchers also violates an 1871 voter intimidation law that was enacted to prevent the KKK from harassing and intimidating minority voters.
“Trump has sought to advance his campaign’s goal of ‘voter suppression’ by using the loudest microphone in the nation to implore his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation.”
Trump’s would-be election observers seem primed to mainly challenge voters’ eligibility. https://t.co/6TFnowsF6W— POLITICO Magazine (@POLITICOMag) October 31, 2016
So far, neither Donald Trump nor his campaign has commented to the media about the pending lawsuits.
According to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who is poised to pull off a huge electoral college win on election day, Donald Trump enlisted the help of volunteer “election observers” with the express hope that the poll watchers would discourage non-Trump voters from voting. The former Secretary of State made the comments at an Ohio Rally.
“His whole strategy is to suppress the vote. Lots of noise. Lots of distractions.”
Donald Trump has been asking his poll watchers to get out and keep an eye on things since August when he rolled out his controversial “election observer” volunteer blitz. Trump has publicly encouraged the volunteer team to be diligent on election day, to watch for signs of voter fraud, and has specifically directed them to pay extra close attention to cities with large minority populations, such as Philadelphia.
@Newsweek No voter should be intimidated Mr.Trump. This is United States of America not Russia! We do not intimidate, we let are people vote— Patricia Taylor (@ptaylor0913) November 1, 2016
As Salon reports, the Democratic National Committee has also filed suit to prevent the RNC from supporting Donald Trump’s “election observer” recruitment plans, as well as any plots or plans that might suppress the minority vote based on Donald Trump’s ever-popular “rigged election” statements. The DNC alleges that the Republican National Committee and other Republicans are supporting Donald Trump’s efforts, and a now a New Jersey federal judge, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez, has ordered that any collusion between the RNC and Trump be revealed to the court.
Expressly, the RNC must give Democratic leaders any and all “evidence of written or verbal agreements with Trump’s presidential campaign regarding “voter fraud, ballot security, ballot integrity, poll watching, or poll monitoring.”
Currently, the RNC is one year shy of being free from a decree that mandates that the party receive judicial oversight if the RNC engages in election day poll watching. In fact, the RNC is currently expressly banned from using the possibility of “voter fraud” as a basis for engaging in poll watching. Could this be why Donald Trump coined the term “rigged election” instead?
Just last month, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made a statement to the media that reinforces the claims by the DNC that the RNC and Donald Trump are working together on Donald Trump’s “election observer” project.
“[The Trump campaign] is actively working with the national committee, the official party, and campaign lawyers to monitor precincts around the country.”
On Monday, the Republican Party expressly denied working for or with the Trump Election Observer plot.
Democrats sue Trump, Republicans in four states and allege 'campaign of vigilante voter intimidation' https://t.co/JhEDgRKJSO— Matea Gold (@mateagold) November 1, 2016
The legalities of being a “ballot watcher” vary from state to state, and even with election day a full week away, there have been reports of so-called “poll-monitors” harassing, photographing, and intimidating American citizens just trying to cast their ballot.
According to the Huffington Post, Donald Trump-affiliated election watchers even planned to use fake ID badges and fake exit polls as part of their poll watching efforts. Reportedly, Trump supporters could go to StopTheSteal.com to register as a poll watcher and even print out a fake (but official looking) ID badge. After the news broke that the questionable scheme was going on, the “ID Badge Generator” page was taken out of commission.
What do you think? Should Donald Trump have the right as a candidate to send his voter out to watch for voter fraud among the competition? Or do the lawsuits filed against Donald Trump alleging voter suppression have the right idea?
[Featured Image by Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock]