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Voter Protection Network Wants Sanctions for Poll Disruptors

Thursday, September 13, 2012

 

The Voter Protection Network is requesting that the names of individuals removed from polling places last week be sent to the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission, as well as the City Solicitor's Office, to be considered for possible sanctions.

The city has not take any definitive action yet in response to the allegations of voter intimidation and suppression during last week's primary, but the Board of Election Commissioners did vote on Monday to review rules and requirements ahead of November's general election.

Requests for Changes

The Voter Protection Network has issued several requests ahead of the commission's next meeting is scheduled for later this month.

"One of the things that we're looking for is that the rules be improved," said spokesman Chris Robarge, who also serves as the Central Massachusetts coordinator for the ACLU.

Robarge and his colleagues are also asking for greater training for both poll workers and police officers assigned to polling stations.

Other requests include additional signage at polling locations informing all eligible voters that they have a right to vote and a list of acceptable proofs of residency.

The group's final request is that a list of names of anyone removed from polling locations by either the police or City Clerk be compiled by the City of Worcester and submitted to the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission and the City Solicitor's Office for review and that potential sanctions be recommended.

City Councilor Sarai Rivera called for similar action during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

"We as a city really need to be able to respond to this," she said.

However, City Councilor Konnie Lukes was quick to caution against any drastic action before substantive evidence was presented.

"I think we need real clarity on the direction we're going in," Lukes said.

Potential Sanctions

What potential actions could be taken were not entirely clear.

Robarge said activities such as those reported last Thursday had not been an issue in the past, and many involved seemed unsure how far-ranging any potential actions would be.

"There is no process by which any sanctions would carry forward," Robarge said.

Individuals may be removed from polling locations for failing to follow proper rules and procedures, but according to Robarge, their removal applies only on that day, not for subsequent elections, and may even be restricted to just that polling place.

"It's not like they get a red card and can't play in the next round," he said, using a soccer analogy.

Neither the Voter Protection Network nor the ACLU is looking to pursue sanctions independently at this time.  

 

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