The right to have a voice in choosing government officials is important to citizens throughout the United States, but the need for security at voting polls has been on the rise in recent years. Controversial elections happening at the state and federal levels have created a need to enforce polling station policies and ensure voters have safe, confidential places to cast their ballots.
COVID-19 has only complicated these already crazy issues and proven that something like it could happen again in the future.
The 2020 Presidential election taught us a lot about the logistics of voting and how important it is to have systems in place that account for almost any possible situation. That includes the need to maintain a polling area that is secure from tampering or overly passionate voters. A security presence is now essential, and here’s what we’ve learned about making sure yours is up to the country’s ever-growing challenges…
Why it’s Essential to have Security at Voting Polls
There is more than one reason for a strong security presence at the voter polls. More registered voters lined up to cast their votes on November 3 than ever, and the following reasons were enough to have a detail on the premises.
1. Social Distancing Requirements
The COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting the world, which meant social distancing guidelines and other mandates — such as wearing masks or face covering — needed to be enforced to keep those voting in person safe from exposure. Some precincts expected thousands of voters to visit in a single day, meaning it was critical to ensure they were adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s guidelines for safe interactions, standing the recommended distance apart, using hand sanitizer throughout the process, and keeping touching surfaces to a minimum.
2. Voter Safety
There was growing concern that some individuals may attempt to harass registered voters into casting their votes in specific directions. Voters needed to feel free to move around in the polling stations as they wished, though, and walking up to and leaving one needed to feel safe and comfortable. A security detail needs to be available to manage such situations as they arise and protect those standing in line from physical or emotional harassment and confrontations. This allows the voting process to take place properly and keep the lines moving at a steady pace.
3. Poll Worker Safety
Those who volunteer to work at polling stations do not deserve to be harassed or provoked during their shifts. Ensuring only registered voters and authorized individuals were present at the polls maintains their safety and security while providing a safe and confidential space for voters.
4. Voter Confidentiality
Voters needed to feel safe and secure when they went to the polls. If the line was the only area being monitored, there could be room for confidentiality breaches. All election materials also needed to be monitored and protected to ensure voter confidentiality and maintain each voter’s rights.
The 2020 election may prove to be one of the most demanding in terms of logistics, but having the right security plan in place and security at voting polls will go a long way toward ensuring future ones go off without a hitch.
Solutions For Voting Poll Safety
Poll workers had more than just voters to keep up with, with the pandemic and additional guidelines to follow. Here are some of the security solutions you might consider implementing to keep such processes safe for all involved in the future and a greater peace of mind and sense of security at voting polls.
Voters who decide to vote on Election Day have the right to vote in a safe environment that is compliant with government and CDC mandates (in this case, to combat COVID-19). Here’s how security professionals can help:
- Having security professionals posted around the exterior and interior of the polling place will help minimize voter harassment and confrontations.
- A security presence on the exterior of the poll minimizes harassment from passionate voters and other patrons attempting to intimidate voters into voting a certain way.
- These professionals are also available to monitor and ensure voters entering the polling place are following the required social distancing guidelines and wearing face coverings.
Security professionals are well-versed in mitigating difficult situations and keeping them from escalating. Sometimes the mere presence of such teams will be enough to keep havoc-causers from acting, and those who are bold enough to create trouble anyway will be stopped.
There are CCTV camera systems available that can be placed throughout the polls to monitor the traffic and voters coming into the facility. You’ll want to keep in mind that:
- When placing these cameras, it is important to make sure the confidentiality of voters is protected.
- No camera should be faced where it can see the selection made by the voters.
- It should pick areas around the polls, however, to ensure no harassment or mishandling of votes is happening with outside patrons, poll workers, or anyone else attempting to commit voter fraud.
- CCTV cameras can be monitored from a remote location to reduce additional exposure to COVID-19 or other future viral outbreaks.
The combination of security guards and cameras is a win-win for voting poll organizers: A guard can be monitoring the lines for entry and adherence to social distancing, for example, while another professional can remotely monitor the voting area through the CCTV feeds to ensure the confidentiality and safety of all those voting with this level of security at voting polls.
Partner With Security Experts
The passion found in the 2016 Presidential election had not subsided by 2020. Voters in this election were just as passionate on both sides, and it’s safe to assume we might see similar situations in the future.
Maintaining a safe environment for all voters at your precinct is best done when you partner with security experts. That includes protecting voters from exposure during health risks by enforcing mandates and guidelines to reduce the spread of disease. Poll workers alone are not able to ensure all these rules are being met from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, but working with security experts means you have the tools to protect voters in your city or community.
Are you ready to partner with SMART Security Pros for your polling locations? Our team of security professionals has previous law enforcement and military experience, making them the best option to maintain crowd control and enforce guidelines. Contact us today for more information.