A US judge has warned Donald Trump’s campaign against any “voter intimidation” and unauthorised ‘poll watching’ activities in Ohio, the result of one of several cases brought by Democrats before Election Day. The Ohio case was filed by lawyers for state Democratic parties against the Trump campaign and Republicans, seeking early restraining orders or limits to ballot security or voter questioning efforts. Similar lawsuits were filed in Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
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Judge James Gwin of the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled after a hearing on Friday, mostly siding with Democrats against Trump and Republican operative Roger Stone’s group “Stop the Steal” and issuing a temporary restraining order, CNN reported.
The Trump campaign has appealed the ruling to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Gwin’s ruling, the campaign said, “literally imposes a comprehensive election code the court will apparently continue to invent on the fly.”
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In Arizona, a federal judge late Friday rejected a similar request from Democrats for a restraining order.
Among actions prohibited under Gwin’s order, “Hindering or delaying a voter or prospective voter from reaching or leaving the polling place,” participating in “unauthorised ‘poll watching'” activities, including “challenging or questioning voters or prospective voters about their eligibility to vote, and “interrogating, admonishing, interfering with, or verbally harassing voters or prospective voters.”
Campaigns and individuals are also barred from questioning voters “under the guise of the purported ‘exit polling’ or ‘citizen journalist’ operations organised and encouraged by Defendants Stone and Stop the Steal.” Gwin’s order applies to Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well. The Trump campaign has denied it is participating in any illegal activity.
“Intimidating voters is illegal, and the campaign does not remotely condone such conduct,” Trump campaign lawyer Chad A Readler of Jones Day wrote in a 15-page legal filing in Ohio earlier this week.
Last week, media reports had said White supremacist groups backing Trump are planning to “watch polls” in areas populated by blacks by installing hidden cameras at polling locations and distribute liquor and drugs to keep away those likely to vote for Hillary Clinton.
The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all were planning to deploy members to “watch polls”, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign, the Politico reported.