Democrats filed lawsuits against the Donald Trump campaign and other Republicans to stop potential voter intimidation at the polls in four battleground states.
The complaints — filed Sunday by state Democratic parties in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona — came nine days before the presidential election, and allege a “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, which bans private conspiracies to intimidate or threaten voters.
They ask the court to stop “exit polling” and “citizen journalist” activities at election sites by the state Republican parties, the Trump campaign, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, and a group called Stop the Steal that was formed by Stone.
“Trump’s calls for unlawful intimidation have grown louder and louder, and the conspiracy to harass and threaten voters on Election Day has already resulted in acts that threaten the voting rights of registered Pennsylvania voters,” the Pennsylvania complaint states.
More than 23 million people across the country have already cast absentee ballots or voted early in person, according to the nonpartisan United States Election Project.
The lawsuits cite an unnamed official’s comments to Bloomberg News on Oct. 27 that the Trump campaign has three voter suppression operations that target African-Americans and other groups. And the Democrats allege that Trump supporters have pledged to go to certain polling places with minority voters and interfere.
“I’m honored but the lawsuit is without merit and the lawyers who filed it could face sanctions,” Stone said in an email response to the lawsuits. “Stop the Steal in partnership with Vote Protectors is conducting a neutral, scientifically based EXIT POLL in order to compare the actual machine results with the exit poll results in 7,000 key precincts.”
Stone said the methodology is no different than that used in network consortium exit polls.
“We are not coordinating with the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee or the individual Republican state committees,” Stone wrote in the email. “We seek only to determine if the election is honestly and fairly conducted and to provide an evidentiary basis for a challenge to the election if that is not the case. I assume the purpose of this bogus lawsuit is to distract from the voter fraud the Democrats have traditionally engaged in.”
Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller told CNN on Oct. 27 that the unnamed official “either A) was not qualified to give such a quote or B) had no idea what they were talking about.”
Miller said on Oct. 19 that the Republican nominee, when he declined during the third debate to say if he was going to accept the results of the election, was putting those looking to commit voter fraud on notice “that we’re going to be watching, and we’re going to make sure that we have honest and fair elections.”
Voting rights advocates have been preparing for voter intimidation issues on Election Day. This will be the first presidential election since 1964 without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key enforcement provision in the civil rights law that required certain states to check any election changes with the Justice Department.