Our son is less interested in an Agenda 21 comic strip than going to see “Brave” later this month. I’m game.
Editors’ note: Our local “nonpartisan” tea party is going to launch an “election integrity” effort on Tuesday, as reported here. But who’s watching the poll watchers? In 2009, I sought records in a public records request and found there had been alleged “disruption and intimidation” at the polls in Truckee. You can read the specifics here. Yubanet also asked for the records, and its report is here.
“A variety of sources told YubaNet that McClintock’s Field Representative Kim Pruett was in Truckee on Election Day. Ms. Pruett is assigned to Nevada County, where her husband Barry Pruett mounted an unsuccessful campaign to unseat the current Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, Gregory Diaz,” Yubanet reported at the time.
“YubaNet contacted Congressman McClintock’s Press Secretary Bill George for comment. He forwarded our request to Jon Huey, Campaign Manager for McClintock for Congress. His response, on behalf of Rep. McClintock’s campaign reads: “A free society has an inherent right to an elections process that is open, transparent, observable and above-board. The conduct of an election behind closed doors and without accountability to the citizens is anathema to a democracy, and it is unfortunate that some election officials in Nevada County disagree.”
This year, the elections office has posted the poll watcher guidelines for the election. They are listed below:
Poll Watchers are persons interested in election proceedings who are entitled to observe polling place operations during voting hours. However, poll watchers may not disrupt the election process or interfere with a voter’s right to cast a secret ballot. Poll watchers often represent candidates, political campaigns and/or organizations.
Poll Workers are appointed by the County Clerk-Recorder and are responsible for all phases of the election that take place at the polls. They will comply with poll watchers’ requests for voter information.
The following pages contain rules and procedures that all observers at the polling places must comply with at all times.
1. Vote counting activities at the polls and the tally center are open to public observation but no interference will be allowed during the proceedings. Interference with the election and canvass, or with a voter casting a ballot, is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for up to three years. (EC Sec. 18502)
Only pollworkers have the right to challenge a person’s eligibility to vote at the polls. A challenge may be made only upon sufficient probable cause. Pollworkers are instructed to report the presence of any persons or signs which may be intimidating to voters or cause interference with the voting process to the Elections Department. (EC Sec. 14240)
The use of force, violence or tactic of coercion or intimidation to compel a person to refrain from voting at any election is a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison. (EC Sec. 18540)
2. Damaging or tampering with voting equipment or official election materials in a polling place is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for 2, 3, or 4 years. (EC Sec. 18564)
3. Electioneering is not permitted within 100 feet of the polling place; that is, within 100 feet from the entrance or door to the room or rooms in which voters sign the roster and cast their ballots. Exit polling is permitted, however, no closer than 25 feet of polling places by news media or other organizations surveying voters as to how they voted.
Photographing, videotaping or otherwise recording a voter entering or exiting a polling place within 100 feet of the polling place is prohibited. It is permissible to film or interview voters in the polling place, including voters in the booth, as long as the voter consents and there is no disruption of other voters or the voting process. (EC Sec. 18370 and AG Opinion)
Only pollworkers can post signs within 100 feet of a polling place.
4. Talking in loud voices, disruptive behavior which causes confusion or the congregating of excessive numbers of persons inside the polling place is not permitted. Onsite telephones or other facilities are not available for the use of poll watchers.
5. Wearing campaign badges or taking campaign material or literature into the polling place is not permitted.
6. Poll watchers may not sit at the official table. (EC Sec. 14223(a))
7. The area between the official table and the voting booths is accessible to voters only and may not be designated as an observer post. (EC Sec. 14221)
8. Indexes marked to indicate persons who have voted are posted for reference by the public. Signature rosters may be inspected at any time provided there is no interference with poll operations or delay or inconvenience to the voters.
(EC Sec. 14202 & 14223(b))
9. The American Flag must be prominently displayed (regardless of weather conditions) during all polling hours (EC Sec. 14105(f))
10. At the opening of the polls the ballot box must be opened, exhibited to be empty, closed and then shall remain locked until the last ballot is cast and the polls are closed. (EC Sec. 14215)
11. If a polling place is inaccessible to a voter with a disability, the voter may vote a ballot outside the premises in an accessible area as near as possible to the polling place. (EC Sec. 14282(c))
12. Voters may request and receive assistance in voting if they declare under oath that they are unable to mark their ballots. (EC Sec. 14282(a))
13. A voting booth may not be occupied by more than one person at a time, unless a person is assisting the voter as provided by law. (EC Sec. 14281, 14222 and 14224)
14. Pollworkers may communicate with voters in a language other than English, but are permitted to do so only to provide election information or instructions. Special language assistants are permitted to help voters in the voting booth with a time limit. (EC Sec 14227 and the Voting Rights Act, VRA)
15. Smoking is not permitted inside the polling place.