Some mayors are downplaying potential unrest leading up to and following election day while many law enforcement officials recommend preparing for the worst, Axios reported Tuesday.
Worst-case scenarios include voter intimidation, armed illegal militias stationed at polling places, and days of violent protests led by extremist groups, Axios reported. Multiple mayors said they were confident that the election would happen as planned.
“There’s a heightened concern. We have heard about the possibility of having individuals at polling sites intent on disrupting the ability of people to freely vote, but we don’t know if it’s just an urban legend,” Democratic Tampa, Florida, Mayor Jane Castor said, Axios reported.
“We try to monitor in a preventive way. I don’t expect that we will have any issues,” Castor added.
Mayors are preparing for worst-case scenarios on Election Day:
Illegal militias show up fully armed at polling places. People are intimidated from voting. Extremist groups launch violent protests that last for days. https://t.co/6CeXlJUC0r
— Axios (@axios) October 20, 2020
“There is significant concern that we may see voter intimidation efforts and protests, some possibly violent, in the days leading up to November 3, on that day, and on the days following,” the U.S. Conference of Mayors said.
“What people are more concerned about than anything else right now is the fear of things as opposed to an indication that the fears would actually be realized,” Democratic Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler said, Axios reported.
Albuquerque District Attorney Raúl Torrez will create “a war room of senior level prosecutors” to help police officials manage disruptions, Axios reported. Police officials are studying local rules and laws across the nation, though officers are only permitted inside the polls to vote.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the hiring of a full-time state-level election security specialist, Axios reported. (RELATED: Nearly A Quarter Of College Students Say They’ll ‘Likely’ Protest If Trump Wins 2020 Election, Survey Finds)
Benson said people will not be allowed to open carry firearms within “a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located,” on election day, CBS News reported.
Poll watchers are regulated differently in each state, Axios reported. Poll watchers are required to “wear a badge indicating their name and organization,” in Georgia, North Dakota, and South Carolina, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“We have seen some explicit messages from groups like the Oath Keepers and the 3 Percenters Security Force that have indicated that they’re shifting their focus to potentially showing up [at] the polls,” Lindsay Schubiner of the Western States Center said, Axios reported.
In 46 states, “challenger laws” allow private citizens to “challenge the eligibility of prospective voters,” these laws have received criticism from the public in previous elections, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
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