Judge Demands Answers from RNC After Allegations of Illegal Poll Monitoring

Donald Trump’s “rigged election” claims and calls for supporters to monitor polling places may have provided good headline fodder, but at least one federal judge is raising concerns over whether the Republican National Committee (RNC) is actually engaging in illegal “ballot security” measures, as its nominee has claimed.

U.S. District Court Judge John Vazquez has given the party a deadline of 5:00pm Tuesday by which time it must detail “agreements in any form between [the RNC] and the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump…regarding voter fraud, ballot security, ballot integrity, poll watching, or poll monitoring.”

Referencing claims made by GOP Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway that the party would help engage in poll monitoring, the order notes that such an agreement would be in violation of the 1982 Consent Decree, which “settl[ed] a case alleging that GOP pollwatchers sought to intimidate minority voters in a practice then known as ‘caging,'” as Politico‘s Josh Gerstein explained.

“The agreements allow the RNC to organize pollwatchers, but prohibit any effort to intimidate voters as they enter a polling place or to challenge individual voters, except as part of a program approved in advance by the court,” Gerstein further notes.

Rick Hasen, professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine and blogger with the Election Law Blog, who has been following the case, said the court order was “probably the biggest election law victory of Dems in the last month. And it is only a discovery order.”

The order (pdf) came in response to charges made by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last week that the RNC had lied about poll watching activities in a number of states.

And while the Consent Decree only covers certain states, Democratic party leaders have also filed federal lawsuits against the Trump campaign, Trump advisor Roger Stone, and state Republican parties in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Marc Elias, general counsel for the Hillary Clinton campaign, is spearheading the effort.

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