BELL COUNTY, Texas — Reports of voting intimidation incidents have been circulating across the U.S. Now some Central Texas counties want to put local voters at ease when they decide to cast their ballot in the mid-term election.
As of 2020, voter intimidation was a federal crime that could land someone in prison.
Just recently in Arizona, new court cases surfaced that target 'surveillance-and-intimidation campaigns' at drop boxes for early ballots. One defendant was hit with three legal actions in 24 hours.
Robert Batey, a Temple man who participated in the last few mid-term elections, says regardless of recent events he has no fear of voting on Nov 8.
"I am aware of what's happened in Arizona with the people who were trying to intimidate voters. I know that the judge has ruled several different ways in that case. But, I'm not aware of it happening anywhere around here so I would say I feel pretty safe about voting around here," Batey shared.
The American Civil Liberties Union describes voter intimidation as threatening or coercing any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] person to vote or to vote as he/she may choose intimidation.
Bell and McLennan County election officials say they have not yet seen any voter intimidation incidents happen at any of their local voting sites. Still, they hope nothing gets in the way of people participating in the mid-term elections.
"Our election personnel are trained and what to do in emergency situations and those personnel scenarios are going to be dialing 911 and doing everything necessary. The biggest priority for us are the safety of our people, the safety of our voters and obviously the safety and security of the election itself," Bell County Public Information Officer James Stafford shared.
During the 2020 election, the non-partisan Election Protection Coalition received almost 270 reports of voter intimidation in Texas.
Election administrator for McLennan County Jarod Goldsmith says the county has yet to any voter intimidation at any of the polling sites and doesn't want any reports to detour people from voting.
"We haven’t had any security concerns at McLennan County so I don't want any voter to be concerned about going to the polls. If they were an issue, county judges know who and when to contact somebody to make sure that any kind of incident would be taken care of. Safety is a real priority,” Goldsmith explained.
If anyone believes they are a victim of voter intimidation, it is recommended to contact your local and state officials, including poll workers; your county clerk, elections commissioner, elections supervisor; or your state board of elections.