Several federal court rulings in state election law cases have been handed down since Thursday, with both the Democratic and Republican parties vying to check each other’s legal strategy to tilt the election in their respective favors.
On Thursday, a U.S. district court judge in Pennsylvania rejected a petition by the state’s Republican Party to suspend a provision that prohibits poll watchers from monitoring voting procedures at jurisdictions outside of his or her county of residence.
The Pennsylvania GOP’s objective was to have the law overturned so they could send monitors to urban areas, particularly in Philadelphia, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans eight-fold. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has filed lawsuits in four states, including battleground North Carolina, in an attempt to prevent Trump supporters from overseeing the election process.
A second ruling came Saturday when District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez in New Jersey turned down a DNC request to extend sanctions against the Republican National Committee (RNC) for violating a consent decree agreed to by the RNC after the 1981 gubernatorial election in the Garden State.
DNC lawyers argued that the RNC was conspiring with the Trump campaign to intimidate voters in New Jersey and thus eight more years should be added to the decree which is set to expire at the end of 2017.
The Democratic Party’s allegations stem from public comments made by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence that Trump’s political apparatus is working with the RNC to fight against voter fraud and promote “ballot integrity.”
In his ruling, Judge Vazquez said that “no agreements between the two exists as to voter fraud efforts,” and neither Pence nor Conway “were aware of any activities with the RNC pertaining to ballot integrity.”
Two more judicial rulings favorable to Republicans were issued on Friday and Sunday in the presidential battlegrounds of Arizona and Ohio. Federal courts in both states rejected Democratic Party attempts to have a restraining order placed on the Trump-allied Roger Stone group, Stop The Steal, which aims to verify vote totals by conducting independent exit survey outside polling places.
Originally, U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin of northern Ohio issued a temporary order that Stone’s organization would be prohibited from “challenging or questioning voters . . . about their eligibility to vote,” or engaging in “‘exit polling’ or ‘citizen journalist’ operations”.
However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed Judge Gwin’s decision on Sunday, but didn’t offer a written explanation of the three judge panel’s decision. All three were appointed by Republican presidents.
In rejecting a similar Democratic Party request in Arizona, District Court Judge John Tuchi wrote that, “simply arguing there is voter fraud and urging people to watch out for it is not, without more, sufficient to justify the extraordinary relief that an injunction constitutes.”
[Reuters] [AP] [NJ.com] [CNN]