Would-be delegates sue GOP, demand free vote at convention


Would-be delegates have filed a federal suit alleging that the GOP is using violence, intimidation and ballot stuffing to deter them from voting for their candidate of choice at the Republican National Convention.

The convention takes place in late August in Tampa.

In the suit, filed this week in California by the law firm of Richard Gilbert & Marlowe, there are 123 named plaintiffs.

The defendants are the Republican National Committee, RNC chair Reince Priebus and the chairs of all the state GOP organizations.

The suit alleges that the elected delegates and alternates are “being denied certification due to their refusal to surrender their voting rights to vote in accordance with the free exercise of their conscience and not be bound to the nominee of defendant’s choice.”

The plaintiffs are asking the court for guidance “regarding the federal question as to whether plaintiffs are free to vote their conscience on the first and all ballots at the federal election known as the Republican National Convention, or whether plaintiffs are bound to vote for a particular candidate as instructed by defendants’ state party bylaws, or state laws, or the preference of political operatives seeking affidavits of loyalty to a particular candidate under penalty of perjury.”

The complaint cites the federal provision that states says it is illegal to force someone to vote in a certain manner and argues that the law applies to the party’s convention. The law states, “No person, whether acting under the color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of president.'”

In nearly every state, the GOP has harassed would-be delegates in an attempt to build support for Romney, the complaint states.

It says, “This harassment included the use of violence, intimidating demands that delegates sign affidavits under penalty of perjury with the threat of criminal prosecution for perjury as well as financial penalties and fines if the delegate fails to vote as instructed by defendants rather than vote the delegate’s conscience …

“Defendants have used threats of violence, including dressing security type people in dark clothing searching out supporters of a candidate defendants do not approve of to harass and intimidate said delegates from voting their conscience.”

The plaintiffs accuse state party chairs of fixing elections, including the alleged rigging of a voting machine in Arizona to count Ron Paul votes as Romney votes.

The plaintiffs in the suit live in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.

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