Friday, November 04, 2016

Luster Diminished - Election Day 2016 Post #4

Greene County Sheriff's Deputies will be stationed at certain polling places on Tuesday. This is the first time they’ve ever done that, according to an article in our local paper.

I first got this news from a volunteer poll worker, a member of my church, who confided in me that many of the election volunteers are really scared. Which is horrible. Please, let’s keep these dedicated people in our prayers.

In the article, County Clerk Shane Schoeller is quoted as saying, “In this setting, with everything that, in terms of just the emotions around the election, some of the things we've seen happen, we thought it would be good to have a presence. Not on the outside - we don't want anyone to have any intimidation in terms of entering the polling location - but certainly there at the back, as people are coming in, there to assist and be helpful.”

There’s a lot about this that is … let’s just say interesting.

The decision is based on “emotions” and “some of the things we’ve seen happen.” Which is interesting – not based on facts, any real evidence, or things that have actually happened here. (It is also interesting and worth noting that Mr. Schoeller sponsored a voter I.D. bill when he was a Missouri State Representative.)

Secondly, the idea that an officer inside a building is not intimidating, but one outside of a building is…is interesting. So someone who would be intimidated by an officer in the sunlight won’t be if they are illuminated by the fluorescents? What exactly is the difference that makes an indoor officer not intimidating?

Also interesting are some of the reactions online. People on each side are assuming that any trouble that arises would be instigated by the other side. Of course. It’s always someone else’s fault. (Note to self: Never read the comments!)

And most interesting, at least to me, are the unknown criteria being used to determine which polling places will be included. Clerk Schoeller is cited as saying that the Sheriff's department has made those decisions, based in part on the crime rate around the polling place.

Based on the crime rate?  Wait now, what? I’m assuming he meant that a neighborhood with a higher crime rate is more likely to have a deputy assigned to it. So it’s interesting, isn’t it? Is there actually a correlation between crime statistics in a neighborhood and problems at polling places? If so, what is it? If not, seems like a pretty big assumption for them to make, doesn’t it?

Look, I know that I don’t have anything to worry about from a Sheriff’s Deputy at my polling place. And I also know that nobody has anything to worry about if they just go in, stand in line, vote, and leave. It’s only the troublemakers that are going to have any trouble.

But … I have got to try to see things through someone else’s eyes. That's called empathy, and it's an important quality for a follower of Jesus to have. 

What about - someone who has a past history with law enforcement. Someone who gets nervous around cops, for whatever reason. Someone who might see that deputy there and turn around and leave. Someone who might assume that something has happened and doesn’t want to get involved and so they change their mind. Someone who might live in a “high crime area” and so have a relationship with law enforcement that is complicated at best, if not outright antagonistic.

If there are going to be deputies at some polling places, shouldn’t they be at all polling places?

President Ronald Reagan reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 1982. And as he did, he said, “The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.” It seems to me that, if nothing else, law enforcement officers at polling places diminishes the luster of our right to vote.


Dr. Tony said...

I guess my absence from Missouri makes it hard for me to see Missouri as a hotbed of voter fraud and the need to make sure that the voting process is not tainted. But like so much of what has taken place in this election, it is those who worry about voter fraud which doesn't exist who seek to make sure that the vote goes their way.

I trust and pray that at the end of the day, the power granted to the people to decide on who shall lead them is not thwarted or compromised in any way.

Unknown said...

Today's paper had an update...specifically, they deputies will NOT be in uniform but will be in civilian clothes (i.e., 'plainclothes') and their badges and weapons will not be visible (unless, of course needed). This is a good decision on the part of the Sheriff and the guy who runs elections.
Apparently, they will also be able to provide some assistance to voters with some of the voting machines.
While I don't think there's much of an issue in Missouri, I am concerned that in other parts of the country there will be problems of some sort.

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