Monday, August 01, 2016

How Can we Protect the Polls and Voters on Election Day? Or Can We?

Washington Threat(My apologies for the formatting issues; Blogger is a terribly unstable format.)

Last October, I sent a letter to various legislators and the governor expressing my concern for the safety of election officials and voters at the polls.  (I'll tell you about that and the responses I got, later.)  That letter was also published, here in the Insider. and in the Hartford Courant.

Given the rash of terrorists events since then, both here and abroad, my concerns have deepened.  In the US alone, we've seen, according to The Johnson Report, eight terror attacks from Nov 4, 2015 thru July 7 of this year.  These attacks left seventy seven dead and one hundred seven wounded.  These figures include the terrorists.  (The Ft. Meyers FL shooting is not included.)

Five of these terrorist attacks are attributed to Islamic extremists, one to the "right" wing and two to the "left" wing.

They include:


4 Nov 2015 in Merced, California, 1 person dead and 4 wounded when a student stabbed two students and two staff at the University of California; attacker was shot and killed by police.

27 Nov 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado 3 people were left dead and 9 wounded.  A gunman killed two civilians and one police officer outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, also injuring 4 civilians and 5 police officers.

3 Dec 2015 in San Bernardino, California 16 were killed and 23 wounded when two attackers opened fire at a county employee meeting and Christmas party; both attackers were killed hours later in a shootout with police in which 2 police officers were injured.

7 Jan 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2, including the gunman, were wounded when a man shot and injured a police officer.

11 Feb 2016 in Columbus, Ohio 1 person was killed and 4 were injured in a machete attack at a restaurant; the attacker was shot and killed by police when he attacked police at the end of a car chase.

12 Jun 2016 in Orlando, Florida 50 people died and 53 were wounded in a shooting attack at a nightclub, carried out by Omar Mateen.

7 Jul 2016 at Bristol, Tennessee 1 person was left dead and 3 wounded in a  shooting attack killed one civilian, injured one police officer and three civilians.

On that same day in Dallas, Texas 5 were killed and 9 wounded in a sniper attack that killed 5 police officers, injured 8 police officers and two (sic) civilians at protest rally.

Now, according to the UK Mirror, ISIS is warning of attacks in London and other world capitols, including Washington DC.  Whether or not these threats are deemed to be "credible" is beside the
point; history and past experience should teach us that ISIS and its sympathizers rarely if ever reveal their spcific plans ahead of time.  It would be foolish to assume that such horrific attacks as have been carried out in Europe, such as the recent truck massacre in Nice, France or the beheading of a priest at Notre Dame can't happen again, here in the good ol' USA.

America is vast and the number of potential targets are endless.  Terrorists, whether imported ISIS soldiers or "home grown" sympathizer or just plain kooks, could strike (again) anywhere, at any time.  The United States has 20,000 miles of border and coastline.  (The Continental 48 cover 3,718,710 sq. miles.)  It is impossible for FBI, ICE and the CIA to capture every potential terrorist or prevent every attempt at terror, especially when we have an administration that prevents ICE from doing its job, and in fact, has released countless illegal aliens with violent criminal records back into the community.  (See Casey Chadwick)  FBI Director, James Comey has stated before Congress that it is impossible to screen Syrian "refugees" for criminal records or terror connections.

Terrorists Strategery and Tactics

The idea behind terrorism is to create fear, chaos and mayhem along with death and destruction.  Terror tactics have included mass shootings like in Orlando, attacks with knifes, axes and machetes as we've seen in Germany and France,  home made bombs like those used in the Boston Marathon massacre and automobiles used to run people down as was done recently in Nice, Fr.

We are rapidly approaching what could perhaps be the most contentious and divisive elections in American history.  There has already been one assassination attempt, though not terror related, against presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

How might terrorists create the greatest amount of death, terror and chaos with the least effort?  By attacking our polls on election day.  A friend suggested that such an attack would more likely occur in metropolitan areas, rather than small towns, such as ours.  Perhaps he is right, perhaps not.

From a strategic standpoint, it would make sense to conduct a series of attacks, not just in metropolitan areas, but in the smaller cities and towns, villages, burgs and rural areas.  It would make sense to at least start these attacks early in the eastern time zone, where the news of these attacks would spread westward before polls opened.  When news of the attack reaches voters to our west, (and to late-risers in the east) it might very well serve to discourage voters from going to the polls at all, disrupting our election process.

Terrorists would send the message that no American is safe, anywhere, anytime.

(Then again, it may well have just the opposite effect; it may spur people to get out and vote in defiance of the terrorists, though given the delicate snowflakes we have been raising over the last couple decades, it would most likely only be the older generations, still retaining the American Spirit of Resistance and Defiance, that would respond en mass, in such a manner.)


By Being Pro-Active, We Can Protect the Polls

With legislation allowing poll workers to carry arms while on duty not happening until 2017, if at all; and with statutes barring police presence at the polls, (not to mention the cost of it) how can we, as citizens, be pro-active in providing security for our fellow citizens on election day?

By individual citizens stepping forward and forming Poll Watch groups in the same vein as Neighborhood Watch groups.

Before going any further, let me say; "Do not violate any laws; period".  There are only two laws that pertain to our purposes; 1) No guns are allowed in a school zone, any other designated "gun free" zone, or anyplace where the proprietor has posted a sign baring the possession of weapons; 2)  Anyone not voting must remain at least 75 feet from the entry to the poll.  This 75' zone is clearly marked at each polling location.

If you live in a state other than Connecticut, make sure you understand the laws of your state.

How might this work?  If possible, form a group of friends, relatives and neighbors to keep an eye on the poll in your voting precinct.  Polls open at 6:00AM and close at 8:00 PM; workers show up at 5:15 AM and are there until around 9:00 PM.  It's a long day; work in shifts, preferably with two persons per shift, in different spots.  If you cannot cover a polling location for the entire day, cover it for the time your schedule and commitments allow. Who knows; you may be in the right place at the right time.

Once the poll opens, go in, cast your ballot and introduce yourself to the moderator.  Tell him who you are and what you are doing.  Prior to election day, inform your local registrar of voters and/or town clerk of the same.


Local law enforcement officials need to know what is going on so you are not suspected of being up to no good.  This is important; you don't want police to waste valuable time investigating you.  Inform your local chief of police.  Let the chief know what vehicle/s you and other Watchers will be in, along with the license plate number/s and the approximate times you intend to be there.  Expect to be visited by the occasional patrol officer.  This is a good thing; additional police presence in the area is a deterrent.

What sort of tactics you engage in will depend on the location and circumstance of your precinct.   I'm not a tactician, but I think a little common sense will suffice.  Position yourself in such a vantage point as to be able to see the poll entry and parking lot, if possible.  Keep your cell phone at the ready at all times.  Be diligent and aware of your surroundings; who is coming and going and so forth.  Watch for suspicious activity and behavior.  You may want to walk around the building, from time to time.

What constitutes "suspicious activity"?  I guess it's like pornography; you know it when you see it.  Obviously, someone sneaking out of the woods and lurking behind the dumpster, might be suspicious.  People running out of the building in a panic or multiple males wearing ski masks and running into the building would raise suspicion.

Use your own good judgement.

There are ten voting locations in Middletown and hundreds around the state.  The odds of something happening at your poll are slim but the odds of something happening sometime, somewhere grow with each passing day.  Let's not play the odds and take chances.  We live in a new world, one fraught with danger from without and within.  An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.

 The Letter

The letter from last October was sent to my senator, Dante Bartolomeo, and representative Matt Lesser.  It was cc'd to the governor.  A separate letter went to Senator Joe Markley.  In the letters, I said that I was an election moderator and was concerned about the safety of the other poll workers and voters.  I pointed out the fact that of the polls here in Connecticut, most are in schools, which are so-called "gun free" zones and that 92% of mass shooting since 2009 have occurred in "gun free" zones.  In other words: what better target could a terrorist or a mentally ill person bent on destruction choose to commit their mayhem?

The letter also pointed out that police are not permitted in a polling location unless they are responding to a specific incident.  This is clearly stated in the Moderator's Hand Book, which is derived from statute.

Finally, I asked them to consider introducing legislation allowing poll workers who have valid pistol permits to concealed carry while on duty.

Senator Markley though it was a good idea and pledged to introduce legislation in the 2017 regular session; it could not be done in the 2016 short session.  Malloy and Bartolomeo did not respond, and Lesser pledged to make all polls "gun free" zones.  His entire, absurd response appears, below.
_________________________________________________________________________

Lesser's ridiculous response, followed by a scolding reply:


Proposed legislation
From:
Sent:
Sun, Oct 4, 2015 at 02:57
To:
william
Cc:
Dear Mr. Boylan,

Thanks for writing.

Existing law allows police to provide security at polling locations when there are security concerns.

Allowing partisan poll workers (who currently receive zero firearm training) to carry firearms inside a polling location however could lead to voter intimidation. (emphasis added)

I would absolutely not support arming poll workers in schools and will investigate your suggestion that there may be some locations where this is not already illegal.

Sincerely,

Matt Lesser
___________________________________________________________________________________
RE: Proposed legislation
From:
william
Sent:
Sun, Oct 4, 2015 at 07:29
To:
Cc:


Dear Rep. Lesser, et al,



Allow me to reiterate; law enforcement personnel are prohibited from being at a poll unless there is specific and immediate need for them to be there.  This from the Moderator's Handbook: Who May be in the Polls, Sec A10 pg A-11; "Police Officers, Firefighters and EMS personnel, as necessary in performance of their official duties may enter a polling place." emphasis added



Random acts of violence are just that; random acts, and therefore cannot be predicted.  They can, however, be prevented; potential evil-doers who know or suspect that their potential victims are armed are deterred by that knowledge; this is a proven fact. 



Random acts of violence can be responded to.  The police cannot be everywhere at once; but, when armed, law abiding citizens, who are willing to put themselves in harms way to protect their fellow Man, are present, the response always ends badly for the evil-doer.  When there are no armed citizens or police present, which is usually the case, things end badly for the unarmed citizens.



I don't understand why you would use the word "partisan", but I remind you that poll workers are bi-partisan, not partisan, Republican and Democrat, who put aside partisanship to work together for the common purpose of  "ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for the voters as well as protecting the integrity of the election".


As well, I reiterate; my request was for a bill that would allow poll workers who have pistol permits to be armed while they are on duty.  These people do have training, training that is required by statute, in order to obtain a permit to carry.

It would not be objectionable to require additional training for permitted poll workers who voluntarily wish to carry their personal firearms at the poll.  Nor would it be objectionable for any permitted voter to carry (concealed) their personal firearm, while voting.

As far as your concern about voters being intimidated by armed poll workers, voters would be unaware of it because the firearms would be concealed.  You are aware that there are many hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut who possess carry permits and who carry, usually concealed, everywhere they go in the course of their daily lives, where they are otherwise not prohibited by law to do so.  We pass them every day at the grocery store, the hardware store, walking down the street, etc.

As a matter of public safety, I ask you to reconsider.


Very truly yours,

William Boylan

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