AZ Secretary of State Releases Guidance on Preventing Voter Intimidation
Voter Intimidation is nothing new, dating back hundreds of years, but is a serious problem affecting the potential disenfranchisement of individuals. Given the publicity and the importance of this election, many news outlets are reporting that voter intimidation could be a problem on Election Day.
Federal and state laws prohibit voter intimidation. Voter intimidation occurs when someone “intimidates, threatens, or coerces” another person “for the purposes of interfering with the right of such person to vote.” If convicted, an individual could face a fine, imprisonment, or both. The Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) issued new guidance on polling place conduct and preventing intimidation. The SOS listed some examples of conduct that may amount to voter intimidation:
- Aggressive or showy display of weapons;
- Aggressive behavior, such as raising one’s voice or taunting a voter or poll worker;
- Using threatening, insulting, or offensive language to a voter or poll worker;
- Blocking the entrance to a voting location or disrupting voting lines;
- Intentionally disseminating false or misleading information at a voting location;
- Impersonating a law enforcement officer or wearing clothing designed to look official, intending to deter, intimidate, or harass voters;
- Directly confronting or questioning voters in a harassing or intimidating way, including asking voters for documentation or other questions that only poll workers may ask;
- Posting signs or communicating messages about penalties for “voter fraud” in a harassing or intimidating manner.
Political party observers are subject to this guidance as well. Political party observers are individuals who received credentials from their county political party chairperson and are assigned a voting location to observe. Political party observers “shall not obstruct poll workers or the voting process, interact with voters, take videos or photos, act unprofessionally, or otherwise fail to obey the polling place inspector or rules established by the county.”
The SOS also listed these rules in their guidance:
- Individuals may not engage in electioneering within the 75-foot limit. Electioneering includes handing out campaign literature, talking to voters or poll workers about candidates or issues, or otherwise attempting to influence the election.
- Individuals may not take photos or videos inside the 75-foot limit.
- Individuals may not enter within 75 feet of the poll location with a weapon.
What you should do if you see or experience voter intimidation:
- If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, inform a poll worker.
- Document what you see as much as possible. Write down notes and descriptions of the alleged intimidators.
- Report the incident to the SOS online at azsos.gov/incidentform or by calling 1-877-THE-VOTE or 602-542-8683.
- SOS Guidance on Polling Place Conduct and Preventing Voter Intimidation https://www.arizona.vote/files/Voter_Intimidation_Prevention_Guide.pdf
- S. Department of Justice https://www.justice.gov/criminal/file/1029066/download
- Georgetown Law Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection https://www.law.georgetown.edu/icap/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/10/Voter-Intimidation-Fact-Sheet.pdf
- ACLU, Voter Intimidation: Know Your Rights https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/voting-rights/#someone-is-interfering-with-my-right-to-vote
- ACLU, DEMIÁN BICHIR: LO QUE DEBES SABER SOBRE LA INTIMIDACIÓN AL VOTANTE, https://www.aclu.org/files/votingrights/kyr-voterintimidation-spanish.pdf
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