In November, I posted the Other Voices from county Clerk-Recorder Greg Diaz that contained some disturbing information about our latest elections: “For the second election in a row, I received written accounts from our poll workers that there was intimidation and disruption caused by poll watchers at some of our polling locations. Voters complained to our inspectors that they felt intimidated by some of the poll watchers.”
I sought copies of the allegations with a Freedom of Information Act request. A copy of all of them (a matter of public record to anyone, including the local media) is publicrecordrequest. The county had redacted some of the information, including names.
Let’s be clear: The allegations were not severe enough to merit any further actions by the clerk-recorder’s office, and the poll watchers are perfectly within their legal rights. But it is a reminder about the importance of poll etiquette, at the very least. It’s also important to understand, for example, that poll watchers had not visited the precinct before, no doubt making for an uncomfortable situation on both sides.
•The complaints centered on some poll watchers in Truckee, according to the documents. “Early in the morning on Election Day, one observer came into the polling place and introduced herself as a member of McClintock’s campaign,” said one document. “He explained the rules to her and laid out the guidelines for poll observers. She was asking a lot of questions about all parts of the process to the point that he felt she was being disruptive of the flow in the polling place and preventing him from doing his job as the inspector.” There are also handwritten notes discussing this.
•”During the time those observers were there, (name redacted) said he talked to ‘at least seven’ voters who expressed discomfort at the presence of the observers, and felt as if they were being intimidated by the observers from the McClintock campaign,” it alleged later.
•”This is the first election I am aware of a poll watcher visiting us,” one email said. “I will refer to the persons as she or the two men,” it alleged. “Later in the day, she returned with 2 additional men. One in a suit and tie, the other wearing a pilot’s flight jacket with military patches. They all had very imposing, militaristic, in-your-face attitude. Again, based upon body language.”
•”We both felt there was intimidation and disruption caused by the poll-watchers at our location,” another document alleged. “I have never had this problem develop in any previous election worked.”
•”The one poll observer was obnoxious and intimidating,” read a poll worker survey, included in the document. “I was told he was there because the Republican party felt their votes weren’t counted properly at the last election.”
•”We had an absolutely obnoxious poll worker hang around. We all understand she has every right to be there but she was rude, aggressive and very much out of line,” alleged one comment.
It is the clerk-recorder’s duty to investigate such complaints. It would seem that under the circumstances our county clerk-recorder acted appropriately.
Let’s hope the next election doesn’t involve such complaints. As the clerk-recorder stated, “This should not be happening in Nevada County.”
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