Raffensperger calls for extra security at Georgia polling sites
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) on Monday called for heightened security at election sites this year, citing the attention focused on his state’s elections and the likelihood some races will be close.
Raffensperger said he supports placing law enforcement officers at the polls in order to protect voters and poll workers and to ensure that state laws are being followed.
“Georgia has become the center of the election universe, and this year we are going to have hard-fought campaigns that are watched around the country, and every indication is that we are going to have close races,” Raffensperger said. “With that environment, it only makes sense to provide additional resources for election security so that everyone can have confidence in the results.”
Raffensperger called on Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), the state’s legislature and the State Election Board to provide resources to support his plan.
“This election year, Georgia will attract well-funded campaigns, aggressive political operatives, out-of-state special-interest groups and constant media attention,” his office said in a statement.
“With these elements in Georgia, we are likely to see increases in threats to poll workers, county election officials, credentialed poll watchers who are simply attempting to perform their important task, and most importantly, voters who are exercising their constitutional right to vote.”
Local ABC-affiliate WSB-TV reported some Georgia Democrats have expressed opposition to Raffensperger’s call.
“What’s foolish about this proposal is that, I think, there are 25-hundred polling locations, 800 state troopers. So unless you’re going to divide them into three, there’s no way to actually do it,” Georgia state Rep. James Beverly (D) told the station.
Fellow Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen, who is running to replace Raffensperger as secretary of State, told WSB-TV, “The fear is this would create intimidation tactics that are directed toward voters instead of addressing some of the things at hand.”
Former President Trump, who has endorsed GOP challengers to Raffensperger, similarly called for police officers to be placed at polling places. However, experts have argued that a police presence at a polling place does little to actually enhance security and instead serves to intimidate potential voters.
“There is a shameful history in parts of the country of armed officers, on duty or off, targeting Black voters and other voters of color for intimidation. Their mere presence in polling places could raise reasonable fears among groups that are frequently the target of racial profiling and police misconduct,” the Brennan Center for Justice said during the 2020 presidential election.
“But the law is crystal clear: it is illegal to deploy federal troops or armed federal law enforcement officers to any polling place. State and local laws and practices place limits on the role of law enforcement and poll watchers,” the nonprofit said.