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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won a legal battle on Sunday when a U.S. appeals court in Ohio removed new restrictions on partisan poll watchers that Democrats had sought to prevent Election Day voter intimidation.

The rules overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals would have imposed greater penalties on people who harass voters during Tuesday’s election.

Voter intimidation already is prohibited under U.S. law but Democrats have pushed for greater restrictions in Ohio and five other battleground states, citing concerns that Trump’s heated rhetoric might inspire Election Day chaos.

On the campaign trail, Trump has warned the election may be rigged and has called on supporters to keep an eye on voting activity for possible signs of fraud in large cities. Numerous studies have found that U.S. voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

On Friday U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin imposed new restrictions on those who monitor voting activity, saying they may not interrogate voters within 100 feet of a polling place, block them from entering, or photograph them as they come and go. Those found to violate the rules could be held in contempt of court.

The Trump campaign had argued that those restrictions were not justified, given that there had been no reported instances of voter harassment in the state so far.

“In the end, plaintiff’s case rested on rhetoric, not evidence,” Trump attorney Chad Readler wrote in a court filing on Saturday.

The appeals court sided with Trump, lifting the new rules two days before Election Day. The ruling came before Democrats had a chance to respond to Readler’s motion and the party said it may appeal.

“We are stunned that a court would rule without even allowing one of the parties to file a memo explaining their case, but that is exactly what the Sixth Circuit has done in this decision. We are exploring our options to reverse this unfortunate ruling,” Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis said.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Bill Trott)

IMAGE: Voters wait in line to cast their ballots during early voting at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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4 responses to “U.S. Appeals Court Removes New Voter-Intimidation Rules In Ohio”

  1. Thoughtopsy says:

    Apparently the GOP are immune to death-by-irony:

    Republicans: We’re putting in Voter ID laws to protect the vote!
    Democrats: Argued these restrictions were not justified, given that there had been no reported instances of voter impersonation affecting an election or happening at all.

    Democrats: We’re putting in a court order to stop you from organising people to intimidate others at the Polls.
    Republicans: Argued that those restrictions were not justified, given that there have been no reported instances of voter harassment in the state so far.

    It gets funnier when you consider that Democrats did not suggest their supporters commit voter fraud, or help them organise to do so.

    Whereas the Trump campaign/Republicans did suggest their knuckle-dragging supporters “keep an eye on people at the polls” and organised to assist them to do so.

    The party of hypocrites.

    • CrankyToo says:

      Brilliant!

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  2. CrankyToo says:

    People of Ohio: DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED by right wing scumbags who would seek to deter you from the free exercise of your civic responsibility. Head up! Chest out! Do your duty, and ignore any so-called “poll watchers” you may encounter. If they give you any trouble, dial 911 and watch them haul a$$.

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