Virginia, DC increase security awareness around polling places

As Election Day approaches, many D.C-area jurisdictions are increasing their awareness of the potential for disruptions at the polls.

There has not been any knowledge of specific threats or plans to disrupt the voting process; but despite the lack of specific concerns, there is greater awareness of security around polling places this election cycle.

Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection reported hearing chatter from both national and local groups organizing attempts to undermine the process.

In general, the security of polling places is the responsibility of the local board of elections. Linda Lindberg, special assistant to the director of the Electoral Board in Arlington County, told WTOP that there is no plan to have a visible security presence at polling places.

“But we have been working closely with local law enforcement personnel to assure the protection of our voters. They are prepared to take necessary action should there be significant organized disruptions,” Lindberg said.

It’s a similar story in Fairfax County, which is monitoring the situation leading up to Election Day, according to spokesman Brian Worthy.

“We are not stationing security at polling places, but the Fairfax County Police Department is ready and prepared to respond as required. We are directing voters to call the police if they see an individual or groups who attempt to disrupt voting,” Worthy said in an email.

In D.C., police officers work off a five-page general order on how to operate in regard to the voting process. Security is left to the Board of Elections staff on site, but commanders have the ability to patrol polling places and assign officers on scooters and on foot to ensure order.

“All citizens in the District of Columbia are afforded the opportunity to vote on any given election day. The Metropolitan Police Department collaborates with our local and federal partners on a regular basis to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents and visitors to the District of Columbia,” police said in a statement.


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