Officials in the United States have warned about dangers of vigilante poll monitors fearing it may lead to confrontation or even violence on crucial Election Day.
The situation comes as militia members and neo-Nazi groups take Donald Trump’s claims of ballot rigging seriously, reports the Guardian. Without serious evidence, Trump alleged that the election could be “rigged” and even refused to say at a presidential debate if he will accept the outcome.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party has launched a series of legal challenges around the country alleging voter intimidation and on Friday in Ohio a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s campaign and his unofficial adviser Roger Stone.
The ruling said that anyone who engaged in intimidation or harassment inside or near Ohio polling places would face contempt of court charges. Republican leaders in some battleground states are reporting a surge of volunteers signing up to serve as official poll watchers and the Trump campaign itself has since August been requesting that volunteers sign up as “election observers” to “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”.
The Ohio Democratic party had claimed in its lawsuit that the Trump campaign, Stone and his political action committee Stop the Steal were conspiring to suppress minorities in urban areas from casting ballots.
Republicans, who say that party volunteers are engaging in normal poll watching, on Thursday fought back against charges of wrongdoing before judges in Nevada and Arizona. There have been fears that some individuals may be present with guns outside polling stations to intimidate voters in states with open carry laws. While having trained partisan observers inside polling places is a normal part of the voting process, “Trump has encouraged people to go on their own and check out what’s going on in polling places.
These are going to be untrained people hyped up on what Trump has said,” Rick Hasen, one of the country’s leading election law experts said. “I’m worried that there are going to be confrontations and potential violence at the polls,” he added.