ORLANDO, Fla. — The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence has released guidance entitled “What to Do if You See or Encounter Voter Intimidation Occurring at Your Polling Location” as a resource for voters as reports of armed voter intimidation come in across the state.
There are strict limits on what the military, law enforcement, and private militias or other vigilantes can do at the polls. Anyone who intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote in a federal election commits a federal crime. Florida also has an extensive set of state laws that protect Floridian voters from all harassment, coercion, intimidation, and misinformation, particularly in and around polling places (i.e. the “no solicitation zone” that extends out from 150 feet of the polling place).
While law enforcement officers may have the right to be at the polls to help election officials ensure a safe voting environment the Coalition believes that their presence should be limited and only when absolutely needed. The Coalition is cognizant that there may be a need for deputies to be at voting locations that are housed at schools as the safety and security of children is of the utmost importance. If situations arise where there is a need for deputies to be placed at polling locations not housed in schools, the Coalition urges that deputies be deployed in plain clothes, unarmed and located outside of the polling location so as not to cause potential intimidation for voters.
The presence of armed security guards not affiliated with law enforcement who position themselves in voting locations creates opportunities for intimidation and should not be tolerated.
About The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was co-founded by the League of Women Voters of Florida and The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus to promote evidence based gun safety legislation after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. It has grown to include more than 100 local, state, and national organizations and includes such diverse groups as the Florida PTA, Equality Florida, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Southern Poverty Law Center.