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AZ Elections Safe, Despite Rumors of Voter Intimidation

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Elections officials say people planning to vote on Election Day should come prepared for an extended wait to cast their ballot. (sharkshock/Adobe Stock)
Elections officials say people planning to vote on Election Day should come prepared for an extended wait to cast their ballot. (sharkshock/Adobe Stock)
 By Mark Richardson/Cynthia Bishop Jonas, Public News Service - AZ - Producer, Contact
November 3, 2020

PHOENIX -- Voting in today's general election is expected to be simple and safe, but with a deeply divided electorate, some Arizonans could face what they see as voter intimidation.

Voting-rights organizations - from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law - say every voter has the right to cast a ballot without interference or coercion. Molly McGrath, a voting-rights strategist with the ACLU, said voters need to know their rights and be prepared if someone attempts to harass or intimidate them.

"The first thing they can do is tell a poll worker where they are, where they're voting, to make sure that the people working the polls are aware of the situation," McGrath said. "The ACLU is a part of the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition. And there are people on standby, and we have prepared for every single situation."

McGrath said voters should not engage with a person who's threatening them, and instead first notify the election judge at their polling place. She also recommends reporting the problem to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

McGrath said the hotline has hundreds of attorneys across the country who can contact local elections officials or file legal motions to resolve conflicts. She said voters have the law on their side.

"There are several federal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation. Every state has their own set of laws as well," she said. "So, if anybody does feel intimidated, feel deterred from voting, know that there is help available."

McGrath said intimidation can happen while waiting in line, checking in with the elections staff, marking a ballot, or even when leaving the premises. And while voter intimidation is a serious matter, she noted it's a problem few people may ever encounter.

"When you think of it, it's very rare," she said. "Look at how many people have voted already in this country. And that's the exciting thing is that this should not be the expectation, that these incidences are really rare."

Elections officials say voters who experience problems also can file a report with their local county recorder, the Arizona Secretary of State, the Arizona Attorney General's Office, or even the U.S. Department of Justice.

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