State and county officials aren’t very worried about election interference at the polls November 3 for the general election, according to an article by Dustin Bleizeffer on WyoFile Tuesday, Oct. 6 (https://www.wyofile.com/top-wyo-election-official-no-plans-for-extra-security-at-polls/)
But after Trump’s comments at the first presidential debate when he asked his supporters to watch carefully at the polls and that he would say “stand back and stand by” to white supremacists or other type militia groups, one might wonder if trouble is brewing. Cody citizen Dewey Vanderhoff cautioned in the comments below the WyoFile article that he had been “accosted” by a man at the polls in 2016 who was asking voters about their citizenship, even asking them for identification. The man wouldn’t say who he was representing, and Dewey said he would call the County Clerk. “He skeedaddled immediately,” Dewey reported.
Keep in mind there are laws in place to discourage
any kind of bad behavior at the polls.
For a complete look at state election laws, see https://wyoleg.gov/statutes/compress/title22.pdf
According to the nonpartisan group, Campaign Legal Center (https://campaignlegal.org/update/what-do-if-you-encounter-voter-intimidation), voting intimidation is a federal crime. Also, Wyoming statute 22-26-111 prohibits “inducing, or attempting to induce, fear in an election official or elector by use of threats of force, violence, harm or loss, or any form of economic retaliation, for the purpose of impeding or preventing the free exercise of the elective franchise or the impartial administration of the Election Code.” Violation of this Wyoming law is a felony. Wyoming statute 22-9-125 prohibits creating any disorder or disruption at a polling place on election day. Violation of that law is a misdemeanor.
It is legal for poll watchers to be present, but they must be certified by the county chairman of each political party. According to WS 22-15-109, “A poll watcher shall serve only at the polling place designated on the certificate. A poll watcher is authorized to observe voter turn out and registration and may make written memoranda but shall not challenge voters, conduct electioneering activities or disrupt the polling process. The chief judge may remove a poll watcher from the polling place for disturbing the polling place, or for any violation of the Election Code.”
WS 22-26-113 prohibts campaigning within 100 yards of a polling place. News media can conduct exit polls. Bumper stickers on cars for the most part don’t count during the time you are voting. See WS 22-26-113 for particulars.
The CLC gives some examples of potential voter intimidation:
- Aggressively questioning voters about their political choices.
- Spreading false information about voter requirements.
- Falsely representing oneself as an election official.
- Physically blocking polling places.
- Displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and related criminal penalties.
- Using threatening language in or near a polling place.
- Yelling at people or calling people names while they are in line to vote.
- Disrupting or interrogating voters.
- Looking over people’s shoulders while they are voting.
- Other forms of harassment, particularly harassment targeting non-English speakers and voters of color.
What should you do if you believe you are being intimidated at the polls?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Report to an official at the poll.
2) Call the County Clerk’s office — Colleen Renner, Ph. 307.527.8600.
3) Call 911 if you are being physically threatened.
4) The Secretary of State’s office has a complaint form (https://sos.wyo.gov/Forms/Elections/General/Complaint.pdf form) that requires notarization.
5) Call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to get voting help from a trained election protection volunteer.
6) You can also call the U.S. Department of Justice voting rights hotline at 1-800-253-3931