Nevada Dems Renew Fight Over GOP Poll Watchers

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — Nevada Democrats have renewed their efforts to stop poll-watching by the Trump campaign after suffering a setback Friday in Federal Court.
     U.S. District Court Judge Richard F. Boulware on Friday denied the Nevada Democratic Party’s motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order stopping Republican poll-watching efforts.
     Boulware said at the Friday hearing there is no evidence the state GOP is engaging in illegal activities or that any harm would arise from planned poll-watching. Another hearing is scheduled at 1:30 pm. Monday to address the Nevada Democrats’ renewed effort seeking to block the GOP’s poll-watching efforts.
     The party on Monday filed a proposed order and opinion that would restrain and enjoin the Nevada Republican Party, et al., from “engaging in voter intimidation,” including blocking entrances to polling locations, confronting voters, disrupting voting, disseminating false information, photographing or taping voters, discussing voters’ ballots or challenging lawful voters.
     Additionally, the Democrats want the court to ensure there will be no “verbal of physical confrontation of voters by persons dressed in official-looking uniforms” or “violence of using of threat of violence to interfere with a person’s right to vote.”
     During Friday’s hearing, attorney Michael Gottlieb, representing the Nevada Democratic Party, said defendants — the Nevada Republican Party, Stop the Steal, Roger J. Stone Jr. and Donald J. Trump for President — have more than 60 volunteers signed up to engage in poll-watching Tuesday.
     Paul Jensen, representing the Republican defendants, said that figure involves only people who expressed an interest in poll-watching and expects between 5 and 15 to actually participate.
     The Democrats filed a voter-intimidation complaint with a federal judge on Oct. 30 against the Nevada Republican Party, Donald J. Trump for President, Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., and Stone’s Stop the Steal super PAC.
     Clark County, home of Las Vegas and Henderson, contains 71 percent of Nevada’s population: 2 million of the state’s 2.8 million residents.
     In their federal lawsuit, Nevada Democrats accuse the Trump campaign and the GOP of violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
     The Democrats say Trump and the others “are conspiring to threaten, intimidate, and thereby prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election.”
     They say “an unnamed official” in the Trump campaign told Bloomberg News on Oct. 27, “‘We have three major voter-suppression operations under way’ that target African-Americans and other groups of voters.”
     The Democrats claim the Trump campaign has “implore(d) his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation at Nevada polling places,” and that Stone, whose political operations stretch back to the Nixon years, is a key player in this.
     “Trump’s supporters have responded with pledges to descend upon polling places in ‘certain areas’ where many minority voters live in order to interfere with their efforts to exercise the franchise,” the Democrats add in their complaint.
     They say this “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” violates the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Voting Rights Act, and with the election only a week away, “immediate relief is necessary
     Stone registered his Stop the Steal super PAC on April 6, and claims to have signed up 2,177 “volunteers” through his website StopTheSteal.org, according to the complaint. Democrats say Stone and Trump urge their “vigilante ‘ballot security'” volunteers to “wear red shirts on Election Day specifically targeting nine Democratic-leaning cities with large minority populations, including Las Vegas.”
     Stone also recruited hundreds of poll-watchers through a group called Vote Protectors, which runs a website that “permits any volunteer to download and print official-looking identification badges,” and as recently as Oct. 26 “encouraged volunteers it styles ‘citizen journalists’ to ‘approach voters at the polls,’ identify themselves as ‘reporting for Vote Protectors,’ and ask them about election fraud,” the Democratic Party says in the complaint.
     The party asks the court to declare “that the harassment or intimidation of voters at or outside of Nevada polling locations based on unsubstantiated beliefs in supposed voter fraud — including through tactics such as the aggressive questioning of those waiting to vote, threats or suggestions of legal or criminal action, or any other form of menacing or intimation of violence — is contrary to law,” and enjoin it.
     On Friday, the ACLU of Nevada said it is working with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights’ Our Vote Project to track “voter-suppression efforts and preparing responsive strategies” to help people vote.
     The ACLU said trained volunteers will work with poll workers at polling locations “to ensure no eligible voters are turned away.”
     The effort is similar to ones done in 2008 and 2012, and the ACLU said its attorneys will be available in Reno and Las Vegas to give legal advice and work with local election officials to resolve any problems.

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