Updated: November 03, 2020 11:12 AM
Created: November 03, 2020 09:57 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Voter intimidation is a possibility at polling locations during a tense election, and there are repercussions for those who keep others from fulfilling their civic duty.
"I do know in other areas in the country that there are real problems going on, and knock on wood — we have not seen that in New Mexico or Bernalillo County,” said Linda Stover, the Bernalillo County Clerk.
She said if anyone tries to intimidate someone, they’re breaking federal law.
“That’s a federal offense. You could go to jail for five years. You could be fined $5,000. That’s a permanent record you will carry with you your entire life, so is it really worth risking that,” she said.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, it's 10 years behind bars if you conspire to interfere with someone’s right to vote, and it doesn’t take much to commit the federal offense of voter intimidation. It can easily start in line.
“If you start telling them (a voter) that they’re wrong and that they should vote another way — that’s voter intimidation. As simple as that,” she said.
It’s also as simple as blocking a polling location entrance, photographing or recording voters, brandishing a weapon or discriminating against voters. Basically, any aggression in line or inside a polling location can be considered intimidation. It doesn’t just have to be physical harm.
As for what you wear at a polling location, your attire shouldn’t be a problem unless it shows a candidate’s name — that would be considered campaigning, which isn’t allowed within 100 feet from a polling spot.
Now, can an off-duty law enforcement officer in uniform carry their firearms while voting?
“If they’re voting, with their uniform, they’re welcomed to come in and vote in their uniform. Absolutely,” said Stover.
However, Stover said active law enforcement will not be at polling locations unless there’s a need for them. If anyone is a victim of intimidation, notify the presiding judge at the polls.
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