This has been an extraordinary, anxiety-producing campaign season, but election officials in the central San Joaquin Valley say voters should not fret: Measures are in place to make sure nothing interferes with the electoral process Tuesday.
They’re not expecting Election Day problems, regardless of nationwide talk of “rigged” results and voter intimidation – but they’re prepared nevertheless.
“Every election we have multiple security efforts in place,” said Brandi Orth, registrar of voters for Fresno County. “We’re going to continue with that, and we want to assure voters we’ll implement all our processes so the polling places are secure and safe places to vote.”
More than 50 field supervisors will go to polling places and will be available if any problem occurs, Orth said. Law enforcement is always on call to respond to problems on Election Day, she said.
Poll workers are trained to be aware of what is going on in polling places, said Justin White, Madera County chief assistant clerk/recorder.
And he wants voters to know: “There will not be any armed enforcement officers stationed at polling locations.”
Madera County District Attorney David Linn said he will have two armed investigators in the vicinity of the clerk’s office, where votes will be tabulated Tuesday night. But White said no armed officers will be at the polls.
There’s no opportunity to rig our elections here.
Justin White, Madera County chief assistant clerk/recorder
Linn said his officers will not interfere with anyone voting. “My goal is to assure that everyone’s vote is accurately counted and we protect the vote.”
White said voters can relax. Madera County’s election results won’t be “hacked” – a fear that has been expressed nationwide during a presidential campaign fraught with email leaks. “There’s no opportunity to rig our elections here,” he said. Madera County’s voting machines are not connected to the internet.
Madera is not unique. California for quite awhile has required that county vote-counting machines not be connected to any outside system, Orth said.
There is no internet access in the Fresno County vote-counting room, Orth said. And cellphones are not allowed. “It’s truly a standalone room.”
Counties also are mandated by law to test voting equipment before an election, Orth said. That has been done, she said. “There are normal processes that we have in place that we do every election.”
Tulare County Registrar Rita Woodard said she will be out in the field at polling stations unless she is needed in the office.
A number of people will be watching voting in the Valley.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will deploy Election Day observers throughout the state Tuesday. It’s common to send the observers to be available to respond to issues as needed, said Sam Mahood, press secretary.
But there could be some extra eyes on voting this year because the presidential campaign has been contentious and California voters have some controversial issues to decide, including the death penalty, recreational marijuana, condoms for sex workers and whether to ban one-time-use plastic bags.
Kings County invited grand jurors to be observers at the polls and they’ve accepted, said Registrar of Voters Kristine Lee.
They just can’t interfere with the election process, but they’re welcome to observe.
Kristine Lee, Kings County registrar of voters
The county invited others to observe, including the Kings County Republican and Democratic central committees, the Kings County Latino Roundtable, the Kings County Tea Party, the League of Women Voters and the Hanford Sentinel newspaper.
On Friday, Lee said she hadn’t heard if any of the invited organizations planned to send observers.
One outside organization – Advancing Justice-LA – contacted the county about observing. The legal aid and civil rights organization serves the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community.
An invitation is not necessary to observe balloting. Anyone can go to a polling station to watch the voting, the election officials said.
“They just can’t interfere with the election process, but they’re welcome to observe,” Lee said. Observers cannot talk to voters unless they are more than 100 feet from the polling location, she said.
Lee doesn’t anticipate any trouble at polling stations. But a judge will be on call if needed, she said.
White said Madera County designed its voter count room with windows specifically so people could observe the count. “We won’t be surprised if someone shows up and wants to observe on Election Day,” he said. “No worries. We enjoy it.”