The 2022 midterm elections come with a resurgence of questions around voter safety and election integrity.
During the 2020 presidential election, the United States saw an increase in voter intimidation nationwide.
In Los Angeles, measures have been put in place to ensure the polls are safe for voters. This follows a warning of heightened threat during the 2022 midterm elections issued by the U.S. government. As a result, the Department of Justice sent poll monitors to L.A. County to protect voters from intimidation or suppression.
The Election Day Poll Monitor Program is another service set in L.A. polling stations to help resolve any issues at the polls and to ensure that voting system procedures are followed. These poll workers are expected to help solve issues like inspectors not being present when the polls open or a lack of provisional envelopes.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Los Angeles has also helped to increase civic engagement and voter security. The organization has a variety of programs aimed at promoting voter education. While not physically present on election day, the league worked in the time leading up to help educate and assure voters that voting is safe.
“What we do is we give information to voters so they can make the most informed decisions possible,” said Dr. Ninochka McTaggart, executive director of the league. “Part of that also is getting information out about the L.A. County Registrar Recorder’s office, who ensures that folks will be able to get to the polls safely and also while they’re at the polls ensure that there are mechanisms in place where folks do not feel intimidated or any sort of threat to their safety.”
According to McTaggart, voting security in L.A. is relatively high due to the several efforts in place for voters to feel safe.
“Poll monitors will be watching,” McTaggart said. “I know they are also watching to make sure the ballot boxes around the city are also not being tampered with so there’s a real effort in the city and in the county to make sure that voting is fair.”
Despite efforts to stop voter intimidation, groups across the country continue to spread misinformation. In Arizona, election-monitoring group Clean Elections USA — founded by election denier Melody Jennings — organized at ballot boxes to “monitor” voters who may commit voter fraud. The group open-carried firearms, took photos and videos of voters and spread false election laws.
The Citizens Clean Elections Committee, another organization based in Arizona, shares a similar name to the conspiracy-driven Clean Elections USA, which unintentionally draws intention to the other group.
“We are very concerned about the potential confusion, and we’ve gotten many calls from voters in Arizona who seem to think we have something to do with those activities,” said Tom Collins, executive director of clean elections committee. “We do not support marching around in front of a drop box with some kind of weapon.”
In Pennsylvania, the FBI has reported an unusually high number of threats to poll workers which has coincided with a shortage of poll workers in Philadelphia. This raises concerns of voter intimidation.
According to York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, constables will be at all polling locations in York County and poll workers staffed by the county will be available to help. Additionally, in the state’s roughly 700 polling stations, 24-hour surveillance will be conducted.
“I would encourage people who are scared to know that there are people out there making sure that voting is a safe space for everyone,” Taggart said.