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DOJ prepares to tackle voter intimidation, reminds voters of their rights ahead of election

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

State officials are preparing to stop any voter intimidation that occurs Tuesday.


The state Department of Justice has set up a hotline and sent guidance to law enforcement agencies about possible illegal activity surrounding the election— particularly voter intimidation. 

It’s not the first time, but State Attorney General Kathy Jennings says this year’s preparations have reached a new level of detail and contingency planning. She says state officials are responding to rhetoric from President Trump, like when he called for his supporters to watch the polls. 

“I think the voters in Delaware will be very safe,” Jennings said. “Law enforcement is ready to protect them. And we are ready with a number of prosecutors and attorneys in our civil division and otherwise, in our Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust, to answer any legal questions as they arise.”

DOJ has also coordinated with the Department of Elections, the Department of Emergency Management and law enforcement agencies, Jennings said. 

It is illegal for anyone other than appointed election officers to question voters about their credentials, according to DOJ. It’s also illegal to enter a voting room for a reason other than voting or to delay voters by photographing them. 

When asked about fears of voter intimidation last week, Gov. John Carney called them partly “misinformation” spread on social media. 

“My own experience is that there are enough independent or party-affiliated poll workers that are always at the polling places, providing a level of comfort,” he said. “They’re mostly locally known people, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. They stand out in front of the polls.”

Carney said all levels of law enforcement are coordinating on the issue—but do not want to be proactively present at polling places, so they do not intimidate voters

Carney said he also does not expect civil unrest to occur in Delaware after the election. 

“Does that mean that we’re not preparing for it? No,” he said. “It means that there’s a very difficult balance to strike.”

Jennings said last week the state is not aware of any voter intimidation or voter fraud so far in Delaware. 

“[Fraud] is such a small percentage, and it’s been so overblown by the President and others in his administration,” Jennings said. “It really is not the issue here. The issue is, let’s stay safe, wear a mask, don’t even think about intimidating voters who show up to the polls— and obey the law, and you’ll be fine.”

Voters concerned for their safety should call 911. Voters who are concerned about any other problem can contact the Department of Elections’ voter hotline at (302) 739-4277.

This story has been updated to include the voter hotline number. 

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