The complaint accuses Donald Trump’s campaign, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Trump confidant Roger Stone, as well as his Stop the Steal super PAC, of violating the Ku Klux Klan and Voting Rights Acts with a “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation.” | Getty
By NOLAN D. MCCASKILL – – – – – –
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is accusing Donald Trump’s campaign of threatening and intimidating voters in urban neighborhoods to depress turnout among minorities, according to a complaint filed Sunday.
The complaint accuses Trump’s campaign, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Trump confidant Roger Stone, as well as his Stop the Steal super PAC, of violating the Ku Klux Klan and Voting Rights Acts with a “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation.” Nearly identical complaints were also filed by state Democratic Parties to U.S. District Courts in Nevada, Arizona and Ohio.
Congress enacted the Ku Klux Klan Act in 1871 to stop violent threats and harassment against former slaves and their white supporters from the KKK by banning conspiracies to intimidate or threaten voters, and it passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to prohibit threats or intimidation against any voters.
The defendants, the filings allege, “are conspiring to threaten, intimidate, and thereby prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election.”
They each cite a Bloomberg report in which an unnamed official is quoted saying, “We have three major voter suppression operations under way” that targets minorities. In addition, it also alleges that Trump himself has advanced “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 [each state’s] polling places.”
“Trump’s exhortations have been amplified by direct and tacit assistance from the RPP and Stone, who helped pioneer similar tactics in the 1980s before those efforts were blocked by the federal courts,” the complaints said. “All have sought to organize, fund, and assist Trump’s 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 state Democratic Parties are asking for “[i]mmediate relief,” noting that Election Day is nearly a week away.
“Trump’s calls for unlawful intimidation have grown louder and louder, and the conspiracy to harass and threaten voters on Election Day has already resulted in acts that threaten the voting rights of registered … voters,” the documents said. “The [state] Democratic Party, and untold numbers of [state] 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.”
Trump’s campaign and Stone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The complaints call for an injunction against the Trump campaign “and its co-conspirators’ planned intimidation tactics,” framing the order as “the only way to protect thousands of … voters from harassment, threats, or intimidation that could discourage them from voting in the upcoming election.”
POLITICO reported last week that Trump’s allies are searching for evidence of vote rigging in key swing-state metro areas, including Philadelphia.
Trump has called for his supporters to act as poll watchers to guard against his claims of a rigged election. The complaint said Trump’s guidance to watch “certain areas” stokes “fabricated threats of massive voter fraud” and amounts to racial profiling.
Stone’s super PAC is seeking to mobilize “vote protectors” through its website, stopthesteal.org. The complaint highlights Stop the Steal as an organization “devoted to promoting Stone’s conspiracy theories regarding voter fraud, and to using fears of a ‘rigged’ election to organize and recruit poll watchers to harass and intimidate perceived Democratic voters on Election Day.”