The word is “consent.” In recent weeks it’s been in the news because a number of women have come forward to claim that Donald Trump touched them, ogled them, or just plain creeped them out without their consent. Mr. Trump either denied it completely or implied that they really didn’t mean it; who could resist his charms? Ick.
But now “consent” is back, but this time in another way and with a meaning and force of law that could have a real impact on the election.
In a dramatic escalation of a long legal battle between the national Democratic and Republican parties – and in what is arguably a fitting culmination to the year of Donald Trump – the Democratic National Committee is asking a federal court to hold the Republican National Committee in contempt of court for allegedly violating a decades-old consent decree limiting so-called “ballot security” activities at poll places.
The Democrats’ filing Wednesday, among other things, ask that the consent decree — which is set to expire Dec. 17 — be extended for another eight years. The DNC is also asking the court to block any coordination between Trump and the RNC as it relates to Election Day poll monitoring activities that many fear will amount to voter intimidation.
The legal move by the DNC comes in response to Donald Trump’s calls for vigilante “poll watchers” to come out in force nationwide on Election Day. The RNC had hoped to be freed from the consent decree as soon as next year, and Trump’s actions now threaten to hobble the GOP for nearly another decade, if Democrats have their way.
As Trump has amped up his rhetoric claiming a “rigged elections” and urged his supporters “go over and watch” voting sites in “certain areas, the RNC has tried desperately to distance itself from the campaign’s poll monitors efforts, given the consent decree. But Trump campaign hasn’t made that easy. Wednesday’s filing cites comments made by Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump’s running mate, at a town hall event and by Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, to the Washington Post suggesting collaboration with the RNC on anti-voter fraud activities.
The court is going to have to rule very quickly; we’re coming down to eleven days to go before the polls open on Election Day.
The overarching fact is that the Republicans know full well that there are more Democrats in the country than there are Republicans. That means they either have to convince the electorate that their candidate is better than the Democrats’ or that they have to find some way to deprive certain members of the opposition of the vote. This year especially they have a hard time with the first method, so they have to use the second.
In other words, if you can’t win fair and square, cheat.