GOP Must Produce Info on |Trump Poll Watch Effort

     NEWARK — A federal judge has given the Republican National Committee until Wednesday to produce any agreements it has with Donald Trump’s campaign regarding poll watching, voter fraud and ballot security for next week’s presidential election.
     In his ruling on an emergency motion filed by the Democratic National Committee, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez also ordered the GOP to provide any information it has on geographic area being targeted “for precinct monitoring efforts and the reason(s) those areas are being targeted.”
     Monday’s order additionally presses the Republicans to explain the activities of RNC members Rob Gleason, who has tried to recruit poll watchers in Philadelphia, and Ronna Romney McDaniel, who was organizing a statewide anti-voter fraud effort in Michigan.
     The Democratic National Committee filed an emergency motion against the GOP on Oct. 26, claiming the Republicans and Trump’s campaign have violated a 1982 consent decree between the parties by recruiting poll watchers to intimidate Democratic voters in the waning days of the 2016 presidential contest.
     In 1981, Republicans formed a “Ballot Security Task Force,” which attempted to have blacks and Hispanics removed from voter rolls if they did not return a sample ballot form in the mail.
     A consent decree in 1982 shut down that effort, and a 1987 legal agreement forbade the Republican National Committee from organizing volunteers to inspect or challenge voter eligibility at the polls.
     But the truce has always been uneasy at best.
     In 2004, a week before the presidential election, two black voters in Ohio claimed they were wrongfully placed on a 35,000-person list of ineligible voters in an effort that year to suppress minority voters.
     A federal judge later ruled the GOP’s reliance on the list violated the 1981 consent decree, and the party was told it could no longer use it for ballot security measures.
     In the its motion, the Democratic party accuses the GOP and Trump’s campaign of coordinating ballot security efforts to get around the consent decree.
     It wants Vazquez to prohibit the Republican National Committee from spending money to support Trump’s voter monitoring initiatives.
     “The notion of widespread voter fraud in modern American politics is itself a fraud,” the 27-page motion states. “Every attempt to verify the presence of voter fraud has proven fruitless.”
     The Trump campaign, and its spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, have asked its volunteers to act as “watchers” and even “vigilante law enforcement officers” at polling stations, the emergency motion states.
     “Notwithstanding that no evidence of such fraud actually exists, Trump has encouraged his supporters to do whatever it takes to stop it,” the motion continues.
     While Vazquez’s order was a win for the Democrats, it wasn’t a complete victory. He denied several other of the party’s requests, including one that he order the GOP to produce all communications between the party and the Trump campaign.
     Vazquez deemed that request too broad and simply “unworkable.”
     Trump has made alleged voter fraud and a “rigged election system” a rallying cry for his supporters in recent weeks.
     A flurry of lawsuits and motions in recent days claim those assertions and accompanying calls for his supporters to take monitoring the polls in their own hands are mere coded language intimidating blacks and other minority voter groups from showing up on Election Day.
     Recent polls show that nearly three-fourths of Trump supporters believe widespread voter fraud occurs very often or somewhat often.
     Vasquez will hear arguments on the motion in the federal court in Newark, New Jersey on Friday.
     Election Day is on Nov. 8.

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