Thousands of lawyers from both presidential campaigns will enter polling places next Tuesday with one central goal: tracking their opponents and, if need be, initiating legal action. It will be a kind of Spy vs. Spy. The lawyers will note how poll workers behave, where voters are directed, if intimidation appears to be occurring, whether lines are long. And they will report up a chain of command where decisions over court action will be made at headquarters in Chicago and Boston. This will go on in every battleground state — including Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, even Pennsylvania — but it will be most focused in Ohio and especially in Greater Cleveland, which is heavily Democratic and where many people believe history teaches a simple lesson: the more votes cast here, the likelier President Obama is to win.
As the persuasion effort winds down, campaigns are focused on getting their supporters to vote and getting those votes counted.
The result has been a mass mobilization of lawyers. The Democrats will have 600 lawyers in action here in Cuyahoga County and 2,500 across the state, their organizers say. They have been holding training sessions, grouping legal volunteers into workers and supervisors. The Republicans have much smaller teams — about 70 in this county — and will rely more on surrogates, including nonlawyer poll workers. Each side says the other cannot be trusted and, given the likelihood of a tight presidential race, the risks of litigation here — and delayed results — are high.
“If it’s close, you will see both sides running to court,” said Jeff Hastings, a Republican and chairman of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.