Tue October 30, 2012
More Private 'Election Observers' Expected at Polls
Election observers of various political stripes are expected to show up in force at polling places across the state next Tuesday. State elections officials say poll workers and police are also prepared to enforce state laws that prohibit observers from interfering with voters as they cast their ballots.
Milwaukee Attorney Ann Jacobs is working with the Election Protection Project and the League of Women Voters. She and other volunteers will be fielding phone calls from people who run into legal problems trying to register at the polls. She says the more than 500 volunteers who have signed up to be poll monitor will also be watching other poll watchers to make sure they follow the rules, "Everyone has a right to go and observe the polls. It's an important part of our democracy. But the moment that observation veers into preventing legitimate voters from voting then we've got a problem and that's where we take steps to make sure that want to vote get to vote."
The Houston, Texas based organization True the Vote and a local group called We're Watching Wisconsin will also have election monitors at state polling places. Those groups will be there to watch for people who may be voting illegally. Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy says poll workers are prepared to call in the police if either of these groups gets in the way of the voting process, "Under the law they have the right to contact law enforcement and have that person removed, and this is one of the things we wanted law enforcement to be aware of that if the poll worker says have these people removed, then that's what you do as opposed to referring to the municipal clerk or to our office."
The Democratic, Republican, Green Parties also plan to have observers art selected polling places in the state.