The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to reimpose new restrictions in Ohio on partisan poll watchers that Democrats had sought to prevent Election Day voter intimidation, handing a victory to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The justices left in place Sunday’s decision by a federal appeals court that had thrown out restrictions imposed by a judge on Friday on people who monitor voting activity, saying they may not interrogate voters within 100 feet (30 meters) of a polling place, block them from entering or photograph them as they come and go.
Voter intimidation is prohibited under U.S. law but Democrats have pushed for greater restrictions in Ohio and five other presidential election battleground states, citing concerns that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric on the campaign trail might inspire Election Day turmoil.
The brief court order issued a day before the election included no noted dissents from the eight justices. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a brief statement noting that “Ohio law proscribes voter intimidation” and citing the relevant law.
On the campaign trail, Trump has said that the election may be rigged and has called on supporters to keep an eye on voting activity for possible signs of fraud in large cities. Numerous studies have found that U.S. voter fraud is exceedingly rare.
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals on Sunday removed the restrictions that U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin had put in place two days earlier.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)