The first (and perhaps only) presidential debate was a dumpster fire that spawned a lot more questions than it provided answers. One of the questions circling the media since that debate is the legitimacy of President Trump’s request to his his voters to “watch the polls” on election day.
This not a post about voter fraud.
This is a post that explains poll watching. What it is, what it is not, and why you might get into some serious trouble if you intend to show up armed with your guns at the polls this November.
IS POLL WATCHING A THING?
Yes, poll watching is an actual thing. Under NRS 293.274(1), the county clerk must “allow members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at a polling place.”
There are, however, restrictions.
In order to be a poll watcher, you must sign an acknowledgement form which states that you will not:
- Talk to the voters within the polling place;
- Use a phone or computer in the polling place;
- Advocate for or against a candidate, party or ballot question (which includes speaking, displaying, disseminating material, or wearing clothing, buttons or other paraphernalia);
- Argue for or against the decisions of the election personnel present in the polling place; or
- Interfere in any way with people trying to vote.
NAC 293.245(2)(a), (9). You also have to wear a nametag displaying your full name. NAC 293.245(7). Oh, and since it is 2020, you also have to wear a face mask. If you violate these rules, you may be removed. NAC 293.245(2)(b).
WHAT POLL WATCHING IS NOT
Poll watching is not showing up with your assault rifle, wearing camouflage and going to battle with voters who may vote differently than you. That is illegal. Under the Voter’s Bill of Rights, Nevadans have right to “vote without being intimidated, threatened or coerced.” NRS 293.2546(3). Federal law also prohibits any person from intimidating, threatening, coercing, or attempting to intimidate, threaten or coerce any person from voting. 52 U.S.C. § 10307(b).
To alleviate any confusion on this topic, I’ll explain it simply.
Showing up with your guns and weapons at the polls is an act intended to intimidate, threaten or coerce someone from voting and is a Category E felony in Nevada. NRS 293.710. Harassing people in line, physically or verbally, outside the polling place, or who are within the polling place is also a Category E felony. NRS 293.703(1). Stealing ballots? Category E felony. Id. Showing your ballots to someone else? Felony. Id. Asking someone inside the polling place who they voted for or what political party they belong to? Felony. Id. Attempting to solicit votes in favor of your candidate either inside or within 100 feet from the entrance of a polling place? Felony. NRS 293.740(1). Chanting political chants, distributing literature, trying to sell buttons or hats, or attempting in any way to campaign either inside or within 100 feet of the entrance? Felony. NRS 293.740(1).
So, basically, all of the things you hear people discussing in the media about what they intend to do as ‘poll watchers’ is illegal and you should just not do it.
YOUR 2020 SURVIVAL TIP
Vote peacefully, and respect the rights of others to do so. Leave your guns at home. America is the country that it is because we are allowed to have differing opinions and views. It is our differences as citizens that make America great, not any one individual leader.
And, just in case you still have any confusion, here is a simple rule you can follow: If what you want to do at the polls on election day is something you would do at either a political rally or a shooting range . . . don’t do it.