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Trump-allied legal activist: GOP vote suppression reminiscent of Jim Crow-era ballot bias

Amistad Project's Phill Kline alleges a two-tiered election system involving not only government targeting Democrat strongholds to turn out the vote, but also "government targeting Republican strongholds to suppress the vote" by closing in-person polling places.

Published: November 23, 2020 6:57pm

Updated: November 24, 2020 11:41pm

Independent lawyers partnering with the Trump campaign on select election challenges are arguing that what they see as suppression of the GOP vote during the 2020 presidential election is reminiscent of similar ballot-box access battles during the 1960s civil rights era.

The national conservative legal group Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society announced Friday that it will file federal and state lawsuits challenging the presidential election results in battleground states, with the Trump campaign joining the lawsuits on a case-by-case basis. Trump lawyers have argued that voting practices, particularly unique methods adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, created disparate treatment or unequal protection of voters in violation of the Constitution.

"It is a shame on our nation that ... there was a concerted effort for almost a century in the Deep South to prevent blacks' access to the ballot box," Amistad Project Director Phill Kline told "Just the News AM" television program on Monday. "And most of our election law ... says government should not put their thumb on the scale to favor one demographic and to suppress another demographic. And it's generally centered around race. But now, the strategy is the same, but it's a different target group." 

Kline said this two-tiered election system involved not only government targeting Democrat strongholds to turn out the vote, but also "government targeting Republican strongholds to suppress the vote" by closing down in-person polling places. 

"Now, all of the data coming into this election — and the experts knew it — said that Republicans prefer to vote Election Day, in person. And [the Democrats] were consolidating in-person voting making it harder to vote on Election Day," Kline said. "At the same time, they used private monies — $400 million from [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg, matching the federal government appropriation for the election — and they poured those monies into Democrats' strongholds to increase turnout for that demographic." 

In the Democrat stronghold of Delaware County, Pa., for example, Biden was projected prior to the election "to win anywhere from 75 to 85, maybe 90% of the vote," Kline noted. "They put a dropbox, we call them 'Zuckerboxes' — paid for by Zuckerberg, along with him paying the election officials who picked it up and who counted these ballots — they put one every four square miles. That's two miles by two miles square, that is a Zuckerbox within walking distance of every resident in Delaware County. In the counties that Trump won, there's one Zuckerbox for every 1,100 square miles." 

Kline said the boxes were placed one per 4,000 people in Delaware County, one for every 72,000 people in what he called "Trump country." 

"So, what they told Republican voters, or in Republican areas, they said, 'Go on a weekend vacation, try to find a place to vote.' And what they told Democrats is, 'Go out your front door, walk down the street and vote.' That is government putting their thumb on the scale. Now, I grant you, it's creative, but it is unlawful. That should not happen. Government should not play favorites in the election."

Christian Adams, president of the nonprofit Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), said he disagreed with Kline's arguments, even though PILF frequently publishes reports and videos related to states' unmaintained voter rolls and evidence of ineligible voters casting ballots, and they file lawsuits against secretaries of state based on this information.

"The Civil Rights Act requires a racial intent usually," said Adams, who was appointed by President Trump to a presidential advisory commission on election integrity and worked for the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division. "I don't see that here. I don't think there is merit to the idea that there are more ballot boxes per square mile in Democrat areas than Republican areas. There is absolutely no federal law or authority that requires parity in ballot box distribution. The closest authority to this were a series of actions taken years ago regarding polling site placement violating the Voting Rights Act because of racially discriminatory placement under Section 5 of the Voting Right Act — something not close to being implicated because Section 5 is dormant since 2013."

Adams, author of the book "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department," said, "There is no partisan right to equal distribution in federal law, not even in the 14th Amendment."

Kline also said that state and local governments partnered with Rock The Vote, a private organization, "so they were able to hire people to take these ballots out contrary to state law" and "cure" them, that is let voters fix any technical filing problems. This, Kline argued, was illegal because a private organization should not be allowed to tamper with a government-issued ballot after it has been taken into custody. Kline said that disproportionately allowing the curing of ballots in Democratic strongholds was also an unequal administration of the law. 

Adams disagreed. "State and local election officials have been partnering with private organizations for years," he said. "Left-leaning groups are just more active and better at integrating into the system than conservatives are. This has been going on on the left for decades. 2020 was not the first time."

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