Michigan Dems Add to Voter-Suppression Claims

     DETROIT (CN) — Joining its affiliates across the country, the Michigan Democratic Party claims in a federal lawsuit that the state’s Republican Party and the Trump campaign have conspired to prevent minorities from voting in Tuesday’s election.
     The group filed a lawsuit Friday against the Michigan Republican Party, Donald J. Trump For President Inc., Trump advisor Roger J. Stone Jr. and Stop the Steal Inc., in Detroit federal court.
     In the 41-page complaint, the Michigan Democratic Party alleges the Republican defendants are conspiring to threaten, intimidate, and prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from casting their ballot in Tuesday’s general election.
     “It has also become clear in recent weeks that Trump has sought to advance his campaign’s goal of ‘voter suppression’ by using the loudest microphone in the nation to implore his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation at Michigan polling places,” the lawsuit states.
     Similar lawsuits have recently been filed in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio and Nevada.
     The Michigan Democratic Party say the alleged “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” violates the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
     “The presently stated goal of the Trump campaign, as explained by an unnamed official to Bloomberg News on Oct. 27, 2016, is to depress voter turnout in the official’s words: ‘We have three major voter suppression operations under way’ that target African Americans and other groups of voters,” according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff group says voter-suppression efforts have been helped by Stone, who allegedly “helped pioneer similar tactics in the 1980s before those efforts were blocked by the federal courts.”
     The Michigan Democratic Party claims Stone’s group Stop the Steal and the state Republican Party have helped organize and fund supporters to carry out the Trump campaign’s goals.
     “And 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 group’s lawsuit states.
     The group says the Republican National Committee “recognized the dangers and illegality of party-sponsored efforts to intimidate voters” when it settled a 1981 lawsuit alleging that it “enlisted the help of off-duty sheriffs and police officers to intimidate voters by standing at polling places in minority precincts during voting with ‘National Ballot Security Task Force’ armbands” and guns.
     According to the complaint, the Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee agreed on five provisions a 1982 consent decree settling that lawsuit, including refraining from “undertaking any ballot security activities in polling places or election districts where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct, or the actual conduct of, such activities there and where a purpose or significant of such activities deter qualified voters from voting.”
     The consent decree has been updated and enforced by several courts, the Michigan Democratic Party says.
     On Oct. 26, the Democratic National Committee moved to hold its Republican counterpart in contempt for violating the consent decree, citing its alleged coordination with the Trump campaign’s voter intimidation efforts, according to the complaint.
     “Trump’s calls for unlawful intimidation have grown louder and louder, and the conspiracy to harass and threaten voters on Election Day already has resulted in numerous acts that threaten the voting rights of registered Michigan voters,” the complaint states. “The Michigan Democratic Party, and untold numbers of Michigan voters, will suffer irreparable harm if the right to vote is imperiled by the same forms of virulent harassment that federal law has prohibited since shortly after the Civil War.”
     The Michigan Democratic Party seeks an injunction enjoining the defendants from engaging in voter intimidation and a ruling that voter harassment at or outside of state polling locations is contrary to law.
     The Michigan Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment sent Friday.

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