A federal judge has given the Ohio Republican Party, Donald Trump’s campaign and a longtime adviser until the end of Wednesday to respond to a lawsuit state Democrats filed that said the Republicans are engaging in voter intimidation. The order entered Tuesday by U.S. District Judge James Gwin in Cleveland says the defendants’ response must include any objections to an order “limiting voter intimidation” or “limiting people at polling locations who are not authorized poll watchers or outside the polling stations.” The speed in which Gwin ordered the response, while not necessarily signaling how he feels about the case, shows that the judge is taking the accusations of voter intimidation seriously before Nov. 8 Election Day.
The Ohio Democratic Party filed the lawsuit Sunday. State Democratic parties filed similar lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, three other swing states. A state Republican Party spokeswoman has called the Ohio lawsuit a “publicity stunt” and denied doing anything illegal.
The lawsuit says Trump and his surrogates have made statements in recent weeks that the election is “rigged” and that his supporters should monitor the polls for election fraud. Further, longtime adviser Roger Stone and his groups have worked to recruited people to watch and survey polling places.
To the Democrats, these efforts show a conspiracy to intimidate voters in the black community and other groups, especially in Democratic-leaning cities such as Cleveland.