On Thursday, a Pennsylvania state law was upheld by a U.S. judge, which could make it difficult for Donald Trump’s supporters to monitor the activity on Election Day in the Democratic leaning-areas. This is a major setback for the Republican presidential candidate as he has repeatedly said that the presidential election scheduled for Tuesday, November 8th, may be rigged. Therefore, he has urged all his supporters to keep their eyes open for any signs of voting fraud in the areas that are heavily Democratic such as Philadelphia. This has worried Democrats as there is a possibility that Trump supporters are going to harass African-American, Hispanics and other minority voters in a state.
These votes can make a huge difference in determining whether Democratic presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton, or Donald Trump wins the presidency. A legal blitz has also been launched by the Democrats in an attempt to put a stop to the poll-watching efforts of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania and three other Democratic-heavy states. Lawsuits have been filed in which they have argued that this kind of monitoring effort by the Republicans can be construed as ‘vigilante voter intimidation’ and is a violation of federal law. The Democrats are also attempting to put a stop to the Republican National Committee from giving their support to the poll-watching efforts of state parties or the Trump campaign.
These cases are yet to be resolved. In legal motions, the RNC has stated that they are not a part of the poll watching as it would be a violation of a long-standing order by the court. But, state parties claim that this kind of poll watching is only an aspect of their legitimate efforts of ensuring that the elections are conducted accurately. There is a significant hurdle facing Trump’s poll-monitoring plan in Pennsylvania because under the state law, partisan poll watchers can only perform their duties in the county where they are registered to vote.
Therefore, this could make it difficult for Trump supporters to monitor the polls in places such as Philadelphia where Democrats dominate Republicans in a ratio of eight to one. There are a total of 1,685 voting locations in the city and there are 120,000 registered Republicans. In order to overcome this law, the Pennsylvanian Republican Party had made an effort to get this requirement suspended. This would enable poll monitors to come from any part of the state and pave way for supporters from rural and suburban areas where Trump is widely supported.
Nonetheless, the request was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Pappert as he said that changing the law only a week before the election on Tuesday would be too disruptive. He said that if the request injunction were to be approved, the poll watchers would be able to roam the states on Election Day for the first time in seventy nine years and the county election officials would have only 5 days to be prepared for it. Civil rights advocates have stated that reports of intimidation and harassment are coming in already.