Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Judge Orders Trump Backers to Stop Voter Harassment

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Judge Orders Trump Backers to Stop Voter Harassment

Article excerpt

CLEVELAND - A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign and a Republican political operative aimed at preventing Trump supporters from harassing or intimidating Ohio voters during Tuesday's election. U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled in a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Democratic Party that anyone who engages in intimidation or harassment inside or near polling places, regardless of political alliance, would face contempt of court charges. The judge dismissed the Ohio Republican Party as a defendant.

Attorneys for both sides declined to comment after a hearing.

Democratic Party organizations in Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania filed similar lawsuits beginning late last month. The lawsuits cite the Voting Rights Act from the 1960s and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, laws aimed at preventing intimidation of minority voters, as the legal basis for why court orders are needed.

The Ohio Democratic Party claimed in its lawsuit that the Ohio GOP, the Trump campaign, operative Roger Stone and the Stone political action committee Stop the Steal were conspiring to intimidate minority voters, who tend to support Democrats over Republicans, in urban areas to discourage them from casting ballots. The lawsuit cited comments made by Trump and his surrogates that his supporters should gather at polling places to stop Democrats from stealing the election for Hillary Clinton through voter fraud.

Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper praised the ruling.

"With this decision, Ohioans can feel confident that they will be able to make their voices heard in this election, Pepper said in statement.

Ohio law forbids people from advocating on behalf of a candidate or issue inside or within 100 feet of a polling place.

The judge said in his ruling from the bench that contempt charges would be applied to anyone who tried to stop someone from entering or leaving a polling location. …

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