A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as Trump ally Roger Stone and Stone’s political group, Stop the Steal, barring them from engaging in any “harassing or intimidating conduct” at the polls on Election Day.
U.S. District Judge James Gwin’s written opinion also barred both parties and their supporters from engaging in any kind of voter harassment.
According to the written order, “intimidating conduct” includes, but isn’t limited to:
1. Engaging in any unauthorized “poll watching” activities inside of polling places, within one hundred feet of polling places (“the buffer zone”) or within ten feet of a voter standing in a line extending beyond the buffer zone.
2. Distributing literature and/or stating to individuals ... that voter fraud is a crime, or describing the penalties under any Ohio or Federal statute for impermissibly casting a ballot.
3. Gathering or loitering, or otherwise being present without the intention to vote, at polling places.
4. Following, taking photos of, or otherwise recording voters or prospective voters.
5. Questioning voters at Ohio polling places ... under the guise of the purported “exit polling” or “citizen journalist” operations organized and encouraged by Defendants Stone and Stop the Steal.
The decision was a big win for the Ohio Democratic Party, which filed a last-minute lawsuit against Trump’s campaign less than a week ago. Gwin’s order followed more than two hours of oral arguments on Friday morning.
The judge declined to include the Ohio Republican Party in the restraining order, citing a lack of evidence. The Ohio GOP was one of the groups, along with the Trump campaign and Stop the Steal, named in the original lawsuit.
Trump has been stoking fears of a “rigged” and “stolen” election for months, encouraging his supporters to vote first, and then travel to polling places in urban neighborhoods to watch for “voter fraud.”
Stop the Steal is actively recruiting Trump supporters to act as volunteer “exit pollers” and “citizen journalists” to conduct sham polls and interviews in urban precincts. These efforts were explicitly forbidden by the restraining order.
Almost as soon as the order was issued, however, there were questions about the judge’s decision to include “groups associated with the Clinton for Presidency campaign” in the order.
“Is this an effort to be “even-handed?” asked Rick Hasen, an election law expert and founder of the Election Law Blog. “There’s certainly no evidence that I’ve seen anywhere of the Clinton campaign raising vote fraud or threatening to harass voters at the polling place. Very odd.”
The Ohio lawsuit is one of six suits filed by state Democratic parties against the Trump campaign, Stone and state Republican parties. Similar cases are being heard Friday in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.
UPDATE: 6:12 p.m. ― Later Friday, the Trump campaign filed a legal notice with Gwin noting its intention to appeal the adverse ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
Read the full order: