Spotting The Difference Between Poll Watching And Potential Voter Intimidation by NBC News Now
(Click to watch, 5:26)
What is Voter Intimidation? (ACLU)
Federal law says that “no person … shall intimidate, threaten, coerce … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] person to vote or to vote as he may choose.” Many states have their own laws prohibiting voter intimidation.
Voter intimidation is rare and unlikely. But if someone is attempting to interfere with your or anyone’s right to vote, it may be voter intimidation and a violation of federal law.
Examples of intimidation may include:
- aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to
vote , in a manner intended to interfere with the voters’ rights
- falsely presenting oneself as an elections official
- spreading false information about voter requirements, such as an ability to speak English, or the need to present certain types of photo identification (in states with no such requirement)
- displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and the related criminal penalties
- other harassment, particularly toward non-English speakers and voters of color
What to Do if You Experience Voter Intimidation:
- Report intimidation to:
- Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español).
- U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971
- Local and state officials, including poll workers; your county clerk, elections commissioner, elections supervisor; or your state board of elections
- File a Voter Complaint with the California Secretary of State
- Fact Sheet: Protecting Against Voter Intimidation (Georgetown Law Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection)
Instances of Voter Intimidation Around the Country:
- October 27, 2020, The Washington Post: Jeering sign-wavers. Caravans of honking trucks. Voter intimidation or free speech?
- October 26, 2020, The Washington Post: Guns at voting sites emerge as flash point in Michigan amid nationwide election tension
- October 23, 2020, The Washington Post: A Colorado landlord allegedly threatened to double rents if Biden is elected: ‘If Trump wins, we all win’
- October 21, 2020, The Hill: Threatening emails escalate voter intimidation concerns
- October 21, 2020, The Washington Post: Shouting Matches, Partisan Rallies, Guns at Polling Places: Tensions High at Early-voting Sites
- October 20, 2020, LA Times: Activists Brace for Voter Intimidation Efforts on Election Day
- October 20, 2020, USA Today: Called Out for ‘Voter Intimidation,’ Florida Officer Faces Discipline for Wearing ‘Trump 2020’ Mask at Polling Place
NBC explanation of voter intimidation (Click to watch, 1:58)