Democrats Are Suing Donald Trump For Alleged Voter Intimidation Efforts
In yet another huge late-stage campaign development, Democratic officials sued Donald Trump for voter intimidation in four states, Reuters reported. In four individual lawsuits which all used similar wording, the state Democratic Parties of Arizona, Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania accused the Trump campaign of "conspiring to threaten, intimidate, and thereby prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election," and of breaking two voter protection laws in an attempt to prevent would-be Democratic voters from casting their ballots.
In addition to the Trump campaign, state branches of the GOP, longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone and an organization headed by Stone are named as defendants in the lawsuits. The Trump campaign hasn't returned Bustle's request for comment on the legal action.
According to a recent report in Bloomberg, a senior Trump official acknowledged that "we have three major voter suppression operations under way,” and explained that African-Americans are one of the targeted groups. One Trump supporter admitted to The Boston Globe that he plans to engage in race-based voter intimidation on election day.
“It's called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” 61-year-old Steve Webb of Ohio said. “I’m going to go right up behind them... I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
In the lawsuits, Democrats accuse the Trump campaign of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The first law prohibits, in part, private citizens from using "force, intimidation, or threat to prevent any citizen of the United States lawfully entitled to vote" from voting, while the second, more far-reaching law confers a wide array of voter protections and official campaign apparatuses from engaging in voter intimidation.
"In the months leading up to the 2016 election, Trump has made an escalating series of statements, often racially tinged, suggesting that his supporters should go to particular precincts on Election Day and intimidate voters — and that if they do not do so, he will lose the election because certain people, in certain precincts, will vote '15 times' for Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton," the Nevada lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit goes on to cite a campaign speech Trump gave in Pennsylvania, in which he told supporters to "go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100-percent fine" on election day, explaining that this should be done in "certain areas." In another speech quoted in the lawsuit, Trump made a similar request, and added that "when [I] say 'watch,' you know what I'm talking about, right?" The lawsuits also cite a form on Trump's campaign website asking supporters to sign up to be "Trump Election Observers."
Democrats are also accusing Stone, a veteran political operative and longtime Trump associate, of assisting in this voter intimidation through his "Stop the Steal" group, an organization that asks supporters to "defend the Donald" by signing up to be "Vote Protector Exit Pollers."
The lawsuits request that the courts "temporarily restrain and enjoin the [state Republican Parties], the Trump Campaign, Stone, Stop the Steal, Inc., and their affiliates and collaborators from organizing efforts to engage in voter intimidation."