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Florida poll worker details alleged harassment, assault from Trump supporters: ‘We were in a war zone’

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A poll worker penned a Wednesday op-ed in the South Florida Sun Sentinel detailing how volunteers were “threatened, harassed, taunted, harangued and even physically assaulted” by supporters of President Trump during early voting and on Election Day, describing the environment as a “war zone.”

Jeffrey Kasky, a lawyer who says he is not a member of any political party, wrote that he registered to be a poll worker because he was looking for “an active, nonpartisan way to contribute to our democracy.”

“But I didn’t sign up for this,” Kasky wrote in the Sun Sentinel, saying that Trump supporters treated the outside of his polling location in West Boca Raton “like a college football tailgate party.”

“There were overflowing coolers; cardboard cutouts of Trump and his wife for the time being; gigantic pick-up trucks over-adorned with Trump, MAGA, KAG and QAnon flags; and a palpable combination of anger, stupidity and revelry,” he wrote.

According to Kasky, the people used their cars fo block access in and out of the polling place, interfered with traffic by waving flags in the streets and “directly interfered with voters in the precinct by blasting the train horns from their jacked-up trucks directly into the polling place where voters were voting.”

The poll worker wrote that his fellow volunteers were verbally harassed and the group of Trump supporters “even chanted the ’n-word’ at our precinct supervisor, a Black woman.”

He also says there were physical confrontations.

“One deranged Trump supporter attacked that same supervisor with an umbrella, injuring her forehead. This, to an elections office employee pulling 17- or 18-hour days to ensure your right to vote. And she wasn’t alone in being abused,” Kasky wrote. “A man decorated head-to-toe with cheap Trump memorabilia poked me repeatedly in the chest.”

There have been more than 54,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Palm Beach County but Kasky says that the group of “Trump cultists” coughed at and spit on poll workers while refusing to wear masks. 

He says that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was called “at least a dozen times” over the early voting days and Tuesday’s Election Day.

“Based on my observation, however, their interest in keeping the poll workers and voters safe was de minimis. When deputies made efforts to control the group, those efforts were cursory at best,” Kasky wrote.

He said that one sergeant told him: “If you call again, we’re not coming back here anymore.”

The Hill has reached out to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for comment. 

Kasky also called out Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link, saying she was “fully aware of our precinct’s plight.” He accused her of not doing enough to keep the volunteers safe.

“While the supervisor was taking a stroll with Melania on Election Day, we were in a war zone,” Kasky said, referring to Link accompanying the first lady while she voted in person in Palm Beach County. “She had instructed us to call the police if we needed assistance, but those calls proved futile.”

In a statement to The Hill on Friday, Link wrote that poll workers are trained to ensure “no-solicitation zones.”

“Most campaign supporters followed the rules and were respectful but we had a few incidents where campaigners were acting inappropriately to try and generate media stories,” Link wrote.  “Our staff reported them quickly and law enforcement responded promptly to de-escalate the situations and stayed nearby to ensure the process remained peaceful.”

She said that she sent a “reminder” to candidates and political parties that “while enthusiastic campaigning was their right, that if it crossed the line to intimidation and harassment it would not be tolerated.”

“I commend the poll workers and voters for being calm and not letting the poor behavior of campaign intimidators interfere with the process, ensuring overall that we had a smooth process in Palm Beach County,” she concluded.

The county had approximately 5,000 election workers managing 425 Election Day polls and 18 early voting vacations and Link said “almost all of the election workers we heard from had a positive experience.”

Kasky concluded by saying it is impossible to know whether any voters decided against voting because of the reported environment at his polling location.

“But if just one voter was discouraged from exercising his or her constitutional right to vote due to these terroristic actions, it was one too many,” he wrote.

– Updated on Nov. 6 at 3:45 p.m. 

Tags 2020 2020 election Donald Trump Early voting Election Day Florida Jeffrey Kasky Melania Trump poll workers South Florida Sun Sentinel Trump supporters West Boca Raton

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