Election officials in California say they aren’t expecting voter intimidation at polling places, but they’re coordinating with sheriffs and police chiefs in case someone with a badge needs to step in pronto.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a bulletin to law enforcement officials Oct. 29 reminding them that voter intimidation and election interference is against the law. He laid out rules about what poll watchers can and can’t do.
Eighty-eight percent of Californians expect violence after Tuesday’s vote and plenty are worried about Election Day disruptions. Law enforcement officials say they are aware of the concerns.
“While we fully expect a peaceful election day, we are prepared to address any potential violence that may occur on November 3rd or the days following,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement earlier this week.
In-person voting has begun in some California counties, but vote centers and consolidated polling places open Oct. 31 in 36 of the state’s 58 counties and will remain open daily through Election Day.
Early voting has been pushed in the pandemic, and 42 percent of voters had already voted as of Oct. 29, according to Political Data’s ballot tracker.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub posted a video on the department’s Facebook page addressing concerns about the election.
“Safe, free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and they must remain as such,” Ayub said in the video.
He acknowledged reports on social media and news outlets about the threat of violence and civil unrest during and after the election, but said there are no specific threats to the community, and they are in contact with state and federal officials.
The political climate surrounding the election, with President Trump alleging that mail-in ballots might be rigged, for instance, has raised concerns about patriot militias, protesters, or others showing up to observe at the polls and potentially making voters nervous.
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