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What is voter intimidation? What do you do if it happens to you?

Posted at 9:55 PM, Oct 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 13:51:28-04

TULSA, Okla. — As election day gets closer, law enforcement is looking out for any disrupters at the polls.

A lot of Oklahomans already cast their ballots, but those who haven't can vote in person on October 29th.

The state election board alerted voters about a mass text misinforming people about changes to their polling places.

A University of Oklahoma student told KFOR she received a threatening email demanding she "vote for Trump or else."

Ernie Mendenhall with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said, "If they’re intending to disenfranchise people from their right to vote then we’re going to address that.”

Across the country there have been reports of potential voter intimidation at other early voting sites.

Dr. Matt Motta a political science professor with Oklahoma State University said the confusion over poll watching could cause a potential interference. Poll watchers are chosen by each political party and designated "official poll watchers" by the state.

In Oklahoma poll watchers are allowed to be inside the precinct for early set up and after the polls close, any other time it's illegal for them to be within 50 feet. Unofficial poll watchers are halted 300 feet from the precinct.

As long as vote influencers are 300 feet away and following the law, Dr. Motta said they can campaign to their heart's desire.

It's when the grandstanding turns aggressive and voters are blocked from the polls or threatened before they reach the ballot box, that it's time to get the attention of the authorities.

Dr. Motta tells us, “If you personally feel as if you are being intimidated in a way that violates rights, in a way that violates existing laws and statutes, that is when you might consider getting law enforcement involved.”

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