What is voter intimidation and what charges could one face?

What is voter intimidation and what charges could one face?
Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 13:33:27-04

During the Presidential debate, President Trump called for people to head to the polls on Election Day and make sure everything was happening correctly and legally.

The call on people to head to the polls sparked fear of voter intimidation for some across the U.S. for the upcoming election.

"Voter intimidation is tactics that are taken to really try to keep some voters from exercising their vote," says Jaclyn Kettler, Boise State Assistant Professor of political science.

In Idaho, each County Clerk typically allows one poll-watcher per campaign on the ballot, which is legal.

"People are appointed or selected to go and make sure the elections carried out fairly. You know, monitor the election administration. However, there are qualifications and a process," Kettler says.

Being a poll-watcher is not something anyone on the street can do. If somebody tries to be a poll-watcher unofficially, they could be committing a felony charge by intimidating voters at the polls.

"There's both federal laws and state laws that prevent any sort of intimidation or anything that might make someone feel like they are supposed to either not vote or vote for a particular candidate," says former Republican Legislator Luke Malek.

According to one of the many Idaho laws in place when it comes to voting on election day, a person cannot campaign within 100 feet of the polling location. It is also illegal to obstruct doors or prevent anyone from casting their vote.

"They do have a right to vote without any sort of interference or intimidation. So you know voting confidently and standing there and understanding that if someone is intimidating them, they have every right to ignore that person," Malek says.

If you do feel voter intimidation or like someone is interfering with your right to vote, you have the right to call law enforcement.

"I don't think anyone in Idaho has anything to worry about when it comes to voter intimidation or fraud. So I would encourage people to go out and confidently exercise their right to vote," Malek says.