Raffensperger calls for expansion of election policing to protect election integrity and poll workers
(Atlanta) – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger challenged state leaders Monday to prioritize protecting voters, poll workers and the integrity of elections by utilizing state law enforcement resources at polling places, early voting locations, and county election offices where absentee ballots are being handled.
“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,” he said. “With that environment, it only makes sense to provide additional resources for election security so that everyone can have confidence in the results.”
He said he supports a plan to add two agents dedicated to election cases in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and he is calling for assigning law enforcement officers with the Georgia State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies to also play a role in protecting the safety of voters and poll workers in polling places when ballots are being cast, ensuring credentialed poll watchers have transparent access, and ensuring that all state laws are followed.
As the State Patrol’s website notes, its mission is both statewide and beyond the traditional role of patrolling highways. “Although focused primarily on the enforcement of traffic laws and investigation of traffic crashes, the Department of Public Safety will support the efforts of all public safety agencies to reduce crime, apprehend those who commit them, and respond to natural and manmade disasters,” the website states.
Raffensperger called on the governor, legislature and State Election Board to work with the Secretary of State’s Office to dedicate these existing resources the safeguarding this basic function of self-government. The Secretary of State’s Office looks forward to working with the Peace Officers Standards Training Council (POST) to provide the necessary training so that state law enforcement officers can be well-versed on election law.
The added GBI agents and all other state law enforcement officers who undertake this task will work with the 23 investigators of the Secretary of State’s Office to constitute a vibrant Election Protection Police Force.
This election year, Georgia will attract well-funded campaigns, aggressive political operatives, out-of-state special-interest groups and constant media attention. 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. They all deserve to be safe and protected in carrying out these functions, and a statewide Election Protection Police Force will ensure that.