Democrats are in federal court this week to prevent voter intimidation by the Republican Party in Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal case in New Jersey, however, involves a consent degree obtained in 1982 when
The consent decree was created after Democrats alleged that the RNC helped intimidate black voters during New Jersey's 1981 gubernatorial election. The RNC and New Jersey's Republican Party allegedly had off-duty law enforcement officers stand at polling places in urban areas wearing "National Ballot Security Task Force" armbands. Some had guns visible.
The RNC admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to the decree to settle the case. The decree only regulates work done by the RNC and is scheduled to end next year. The Democratic National Committee wants it extended another eight years, but needs to convince a judge that the RNC has violated the 34-year-old rules.
The Democratic Party is a little nervous, facing a presidential candidate who on October 1 told supporters in 96% white Mannheim, Pennsylvania
You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to go out. And you’ve got to get your friends. And you’ve got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania. Certain areas. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about.
So go and vote, and then go check out areas. Because a lot of bad things happen. And we don’t want to lose for that reason. We don’t want to lose, but we especially we don’t want to lose for that reason. So go over and — watch. And watch carefully.
Joshua Kaul, an attorney representing the Democratic National Committee, told the judge in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday that Trump has "repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts" in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. Kaul said the RNC is participating.
Bobby Burchfield, an attorney for Republicans, told the judge that party volunteers are engaging in normal poll-watching and that Democrats haven't found one instance in which someone was intimidated or prevented from voting.
Not even one? Off the top of my head- and not even in the six states in which the Democratic Party is litigating- we learn from The Huffington Post
A man wearing a Donald Trump shirt and carrying a weapon stood outside a voting location in Loudoun County, Virginia, on Friday. Authorities in the nation’s richest county are apparently OK with that.
Erika Cotti encountered the man when she went to vote at the county’s registrar’s office, she told The Huffington Post. Virginia doesn’t have early voting per se, but voters can cast in-person absentee ballots for a host of reasons, like if they’re going to be out of the county or city on Election Day.
“I had my 9-year-old son with me. I felt intimidated,” Cotti said. “And I had to explain to my 9-year-old why a man with a 357 magnum is standing outside the polling station.”
Cotti said the man offered her a Republican sample ballot, which she declined.
“He’s like, ‘Who are you going to vote for, crooked Hillary?’ And I was like, that’s really none of your business,” Cotti said, adding that the man was standing in the sidewalk outside of the office when they left and blocking their path.
Judy Brown, Loudoun County registrar, confirmed that the man was standing outside her office in Leesburg and handing out GOP literature.
“There is a gentleman standing outside the office with a holstered gun,” Brown told HuffPost. “According to law enforcement, because Virginia is open carry, he’s allowed to have it.”
Brown noted that the man was “being nice” to people, and that he appeared to respecting the observed 40-foot no-canvassing zone outside of the entrance.
“They said that there’s nothing they could do, that he was well within his rights to be carrying his weapon,” Brown said.
The county registrar called the county GOP, "which got the man to agree to pull his Trump shirt over the weapon so people couldn’t see it." Yet this was (presumably,) no fascist or psychologically deficient Trump supporter, for
Loudoun County Republican Committee Chairman Will Estrada told HuffPost that the man was a former law enforcement official and veteran with a concealed carry permit.
“’We don’t want to startle anyone,’” Estrada said he told him. “He felt really bad, he pulled his T-shirt over it, and I think everything was fine after that.”
Couple that with the remark this morning of RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer to CNN's Michael Smerconish, a steadfast advocate of bipartisan comity. Asked whether he'd accept the results of the presidential election- one which most polls currently indicate will be decided within three percentage points- Spicer responded "assuming that there's a clear and decisive victory, sure" (a reply which went over Smerconish's head).
Short term, the best antidote to the GOP's challenge to representative democracy is the big victory- both in the popular vote and electoral college- which most observers believe highly unlikely. Even then, Donald Trump, most of his supporters, and a huge chunk of one Party wil lnot accept the election as legitimate.
The viability of the Republican Party depends on obstruction and suppression. In the mid- and long-term, the Democratic Party will have to fight tooth and nail to establish the right of American citizens to vote.