In 1982, the Republican National Committee signed a consent decree not to engage in various activities that intimidate voters at the polls. That decree is still in effect, although it expires next year.
Despite obvious lying by the RNC and its officials’ incredible claim that the GOP nominee for the presidency’s own public call for poll monitoring under the name of “ballot security” are in no way connected to the RNC, a federal judge ruled that the organization has not violated the decree as Democrats argued in their lawsuit.
Tierney Sneed reports:
U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez denied the Democratic National Committee's requests to hold the Republican in contempt of court for allegedly violating the decree. He also denied the DNC's request to place an injunction on the RNC's alleged ballot security activities. Finally, he denied for now its request to extend by eight years the length of consent decree, which otherwise expires December 2017.
The DNC had brought the legal action last month, with accusations that the RNC was assisting the Donald Trump campaign's poll watcher efforts. The RNC denied any collaboration with the Trump campaign on ballot security initiatives and said it had followed the decree. [...]
The court did say, however, that it is willing to return to the question after the election of whether the decree was violated, and thus should be extended. He added that that Democrats are free to seek more discovery.
The judge noted "the discovery thus far produced by the RNC reflects that it is not working with the Trump Campaign on ballot security measures."
Sneed pointed out that a footnote showed the judge is not entirely okay with what is happening. It reads:
The Court notes that, unfortunately, such calls for uninformed, vigilante enforcement of voting laws carries with it the very real possibility of subjecting the adherents to legal violations. Among other laws, the Voting Rights Act provides, in part, that “[n]o person . . . shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote[.]” 52 U.S.C. § 10307(b). From the evidence submitted by the DNC, it appears that some individuals who plan on “watching” polls in “certain areas” are not even aware of the law or its contours. Moreover, such broad calls to action, without specific training as to what is legally permissible, creates untrained watchers with no credible guidance. What are they to watch for? Who are they to watch? Where are they to watch? How are they to act when watching? What action are they to take? What action are they to refrain from? To whom are they supposed to report? What is legally permissible? What is unlawful? Without specific guidance, the “watchers” are left to answer these critical questions for themselves.
The judge didn’t exactly give Trump’s vigilante poll-watchers a free hand, but he did let the RNC off the hook. You can be certain officials there will be more cautious than they have been so far in distancing themselves from Trump’s poll-”watching” efforts. Nonetheless, It seems highly probable that this matter will be back in court after the election.
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