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Kentucky Secretary of State provides guidance to protect voters from intimidation at the polls


Secretary of State Michael Adams has announced guidance to protect voters from intimidation at the polls.

“Voting is your sacred right. Don’t let anyone take it away – know your rights,” Adams said.

Michael Adams

MAKE A PLAN & PROTECT YOUR VOTE

• Know and plan ahead how, when and where you will vote.  Visit www.GoVoteKY.com to find information about your requested absentee ballot, voting early in-person and voting on Election day.

• Rely on trusted sources for election information. In Kentucky, your trusted sources are the Secretary of State’s Office, the State Board of Elections and your County Clerks. Report any misinformation about the elections to the Secretary of State’s Office at 1-502-564-3490 or sos.secretary@ky.gov.

PERSONS PERMITTED IN THE VOTING ROOM

Kentucky law is very specific about who may be in the voting room during the hours the polls are open for voting. The only people who may legally be in the voting room are:

• Precinct Election Officers

• Voters

• Anyone assisting a voter

• Voting machine technicians allowed by the county board of election

• A minor may accompany the voter into a voting booth or other private area provided for casting a vote, at the voter’s discretion

• Duly appointed challengers who have presented their written appointment

• Law enforcement officers – federal, state and local

• Members of the news media – for the limited purpose of filming the voting process.

THE ROLE OF CHALLENGERS

Challengers may question the eligibility of a voter who presents himself at the polls.

Reasons a challenger may dispute a voter may include:

• The voter is not a duly registered voter in the precinct;

• The voter is not the person he claims to be

If a challenger “challenges” a person’s right to vote, this is communicated to the precinct election officer and not the voter. The voter and challenger must both sign the SBE 32 – Oath of voter.

Challengers cannot electioneer or campaign, handle election materials, attempt to intimidate or harass a voter or precinct officer, behave in any manner to disrupt activities at the polling place or attempt to interfere with the proper conduct of the election.

ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED

• No person may electioneer within one hundred (100) feet of a polling place, However, this restriction does not apply to private property unless it is being used as a voting location, exit polling, or bumper stickers on vehicles that are present for a reasonable amount of time in which to vote.  KRS 117.235.

• No person allowed in the voting room, including precinct election officers, may use paper, telephones, personal communication devices, computer, or other information technology systems to create a check-off list or record the identify of voters, except for the official use of the Precinct Signature Rosters or Supplemental Precinct Signature Roster and Challengers.  [The news media may use cameras for the limited purpose of filming the voting process, but they may not record the identity of voters].

• While “ballot-selfies” are allowed, you must limit the picture to yourself and no one else.

ENFORCING POLLING PLACE RULES

The Precinct Election Officer designated as the “Sheriff” oversees each polling place to preserve order and remove potentially disruptive persons.  They are to ensure that only those persons allowed by law to be in the voting room are granted access. This person is also to report any potential election law offenses to the county clerk, county sheriff and/or the Kentucky State Police.

If you witness a problem at a polling place, you should not speak to or accost a voter to “enforce” the law yourself.  Tense situations should be de-escalated, not escalated.  Please inform a precinct election officer to resolve the issue, or if you or another person is in immediate danger, call 911.  Do not take matters into your own hands.

REPORTING VOTER INTIMIDATION AND OTHER UNLAWFUL CONDUCT

Voter intimidation is defined under the law as the use of threats, coercion or attempts to intimidate for the purpose of interfering with the right of another person to vote or to vote for the person of their choosing.

Voter intimidation can include physically blocking polling places, disrupting or interrogating voters, spreading false information about voting requirements and procedures.  This list is not exhaustive.

If you witness voter intimidation or other unlawful conduct at the polls, we recommend the following steps:

• Inform a precinct officer at the voting location, who will work to resolve any problems and call county election officials and/or local law enforcement if needed.  However, if you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 911 first and then inform a poll worker if possible.

• Document what you see as much as possible, including the who, what, when and where of the incident (keeping in mind the prohibited action of photographing a voter within the voting room).

• Report the incident to the Election Law Violation Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE (8683).  We will follow up with county election officials and federal, state or local law enforcement entities if needed.

From Office of the Secretary of State


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