By Bob Chapman
A couple of “good” stories
Three of our Election Protection poll monitors were teachers. Every weekday during Early Voting, they worked at the Belle Glade Early Voting site from 6:45 to 8:00 a.m. before school started, they returned after school from 5:00 p.m. to closing at 7:00 p.m.
On Election Day, five minutes before the polls closed (in Acreage, Palm Beach County), two of our poll monitors spoke with a disgruntled voter who was denied a provisional ballot. Our monitors sent him back into the polling place to insist that he receive a ballot. They waited almost half-an-hour until he exited the polling location. He provided his information to us so a lawyer could contact him to have his ballot cured.
- A Mediation role
In both Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, where partisan tempers ran very strong, our poll monitors were asked on more than one occasion to defuse a fraught situation or act as a formal witness. Our team set an example as both a calm and nonpartisan influence by many (but certainly not all) poll deputies and poll workers. A vote-by-mail van attendant told one of our volunteers that “when we were present, fights don’t happen as much.”
A few troubling stories intimidation of voters:
- Intimidation of Voters:
We had to call the sheriff several times. For example, at Summit Library, our poll monitor watched an incident play out between two senior Democratic partisans and a young Republican. The latter was not wearing a mask and took up a position two feet from his Democratic counterparts. When the women asked him to please wear a mask, he refused and coughed in their faces saying that “I might have COVID-19.” Security asked him to move a few feet away, and he still refused. Eventually, our monitor called a law enforcement officer, who separated the groups into different areas.
Similar intimidation also happened in Lantana, Palm Beach Gardens, and Jupiter. Extreme electioneering occurred in several forms:
(i) blaring music or political speeches penetrating the 150′ zone and even the polling place; (ii) stopping every voter’s car that entered a polling place (sometimes the sheriff intervened on this), (iii) crowding in on voters outside the 150′ line (without masks) so that they had to pass through a gauntlet of aggressive electioneers– and many other types of problems. One report described electioneers discussing very loudly (so they could be heard by the voters in line inside the 150′ zone) what to do if they got arrested for shooting someone under the Stand Your Ground law.
We know how much this intimidation discouraged voters from staying to vote. Still, we did note that a Latina came out from voting on at least one occasion and said she felt very uncomfortable during the process of waiting in line to vote.
- Inappropriate Behavior by Poll Workers.
While most Poll Workers were thoroughly professional, appeared nonpartisan, and tried to make the election run smoothly, there were exceptions. Several Poll Workers allowed partisans access to the voters inside the 150′ zone and spent time chatting with partisans at their tents.
Having finished her stint at Early Voting, a poll deputy saw moving to a street corner not far from the polling place to wave a partisan flag. One of our volunteers reported he would not be comfortable dropping off his VBM ballot with one of the van attendants. One poll worker refused to wear a mask outside the polling building, even when speaking with voters. We reported this to the SOE who subsequently clarified that all Poll Workers had to wear masks inside and outside the building. The offending poll worker then took her revenge by accusing us of partisan activity, breaching the 150 zone, going into the polling place, etc. At a different EV site, one of our volunteer zones heard that one of the van attendants would be a poll worker on Election Day and, at the instruction of his supervisor, was planning to bring his firearm with him to the polling place. Our team reported this immediately to both 866 and the SOE.
- Attempted intimidation of Poll Monitors (us):
By the last weekend of Early voting and on Election Day, the partisans had turned their fire on us, making wild accusations about our poll monitors: saying that we were going into the polling place to influence voters; that the sheriffs had told them that we were from Antifa; that our t-shirts meant nothing – the whole nonpartisan thing was a fraud, they chased one of our Election Protection volunteers insisting on his name, and they took pictures of volunteers’ license plates. Security at one polling place informed our Election Protection volunteers that they would escort them to their cars when they left because of concerns. They had noticed that our volunteers were being followed by big black pick-up trucks around the polling site.