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Amid federal law enforcement concerns about calls for violence around Election Day, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is accusing the Republican National Committee (RNC) of violating a long-standing decree that restricts Republicans’ ability to question voters at polls and prevent those people from casting ballots.
CBS News’ Jeff Pegues has learned that federal law enforcement officials are concerned about the increasing calls for violence on and following Election Day, particularly from Donald Trump’s supporters.
Officials are weighing warning police agencies nationwide, but are concerned that any sort of warning would be dismissed as “federal officials playing politics,” which could open law enforcement up to claims of bias in the lead-up to Election Day.
One federal official source said if law enforcement goes public in the days before the election “it comes across as political but post-election it might be too late.”On Wednesday, the DNC filed a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court asking a judge to block the RNC from engaging in such voter intimidation tactics.
"It backs the law with the power of contempt," said Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine.The more Trump sees his chances of victory in November slipping away, the louder and more frequently he tells his supporters that the election is “rigged” and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will steal the presidency with the help of “illegals,” “international bankers” (a dog whistle referring to Jews) and “the inner cities.” “I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about,” Trump said at a rally earlier this month. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. Late last week, two Trump supporters openly carrying firearms sat outside the campaign office of a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia for nearly 12 hours, according to a local CBS affiliate, causing volunteers in the office to feel intimidated.“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.” Trump has made similar remarks at other recent rallies, fervently encouraging his supporters to become “Election observers” to “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election! And Trump’s followers are more than willing to comply, openly saying they will intimidate voters based on race and ethnicity. I’m going to go, for sure,” Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio, told the Boston Globe. Su Wolff, a volunteer for candidate Jane Dittmar, said one of the Trump supporters “turned sideways to be sure that we would see that he has an open carry gun, which is legal, it’s fine, but it’s intimidating.” Holding Trump signs and one wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, the individuals said they were protesting Clinton and were there “to provide a voice for someone who might be closet supporters of Trump.” U. Customs and Border Patrol plans to use a 2005 anti-terror law to avoid environmental impact study for a section of Trump’s border wall that will pass through a Texas national refuge for endangered ocelots.It appears to come in response to Donald Trump’s repeated claims recently that the presidential election is “rigged.”The DNC asked the judge to prohibit the RNC from allocating money to fund, reimburse expenses or provide support to Donald Trump and his campaign’s “voter intimidation program” or Trump supporters’ plans to serve as poll-watchers on Election Day on Nov. The lawsuit also asks the judge to direct the RNC to seek reimbursement from Trump’s campaign or state political groups for any funds used for any prohibited “ballot security measures.” The decree the Democrats say the GOP is violating dates back to 1982, and was modified in 1987, which came after voter caging was found to be taking place in neighborhoods that had large black and Hispanic populations, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.Voter caging is the illegal practice of sending mass mails to registered voters, then compiling lists of the voters from the mail that is returned undelivered and using that list to challenge voter registrations.
Some voters in Greenville may have to “walk the gauntlet” past representatives of candidates who are allowed by state law to greet voters on their way into their polling place on Election Day.