Politics & Policy

Follow Up: CO Dem Party Chair Fears Voter Intimidation, County Officer Cites Threats in Stationing Officers at Polling Places in CO-4

The Denver Post has more on a story broken on Battle ‘10 late last week on Democratic party objections–including concurring opinions from the campaign of Rep. Betsy Markey–that pointed to the presence of uniformed law enforcement officers at polling stations in Weld County as a potential source of “voter intimidation.” The Weld County Clerk and Recorder, Steve Moreno, believed that public safety concerns overrode other objections:

 

Threats made to voters and election judges in previous elections helped persuade Weld County Clerk and Recorder Steve Moreno to ask for a police presence.

“During the 2008 presidential election, an intoxicated individual became very frustrated after an election judge told him he would have to fill out a provisional ballot,” Moreno said. “He said he was going to get his gun, come back and take care of business.”

The man was later arrested.

And during the 2004 election, a man who just ended a romantic relationship with an election judge threatened her at the school where she was collecting ballots, Moreno said.

“We are doing this for the safety of voters and election judges and providing a safe environment for everyone,” he said.

For Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak, the public safety issue is at odds with potential feelings of intimidation:

Weld County appears to be the only county in the state that uses police at voting centers and precincts, said Pat Waak, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. She worries that a police presence could overwhelm voters.

“I am concerned,” Waak said. “We want to make sure people don’t feel intimidated when they go to vote. We should make voting as easy as possible for people.”

Rachel Boxer, campaign spokeswoman for Cory Gardner, told Battle ‘10, ”Unlike Congresswoman Markey, we don’t try to bend the rules to suit our agenda. This is a pattern–she tried to change the rules of the 9News debate, and now she is trying to tell the county clerk how to do his job.”

As for the allegations of voter intimidation or the presence of uniformed law enforcement officers at polling places, Boxer continued, “Our campaign defers to the expertise of County Clerk Moreno with regards to keeping our voting centers safe and secure.”

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