From long lines to emotions running high, this year the Bexar County elections office is taking extra precautions when it comes to safety and security on Election Day.
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen acknowledges that this is not a typical election cycle and there's a lot of emotion this year. However, her biggest concern might be crowd control, especially since we've already seen record turnout during early voting.
“We had a person who was in line and was making terroristic threats and just got more and more vocal and so we had to obviously call it in,” Callanen said.
Callanen was referring to an incident that happened on the first day of early voting at one of the poll sites. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office responded and a BCSO spokesperson said that no threat was found. Still, we’re already seeing the results of an unusual election cycle.
Callanen already trains her staff on how to handle emergency situations, but with record turnout expected during a very divisive year, more poll workers are being added, as well as sheriff’s deputies.
“We've asked for 15 [deputies]. We normally have eight, so we've almost doubled it,” Callanen noted.
Election officials said that one way to minimize problems on Election Day is if everyone would follow the rules: like no campaigning within 100 feet of polling sites. And we’re not just talking about passing out fliers and shaking hands, but what you wear when going to cast your ballot.
“Whether it’s a button, it’s a shirt, it’s a cap, nothing can be seen visible that pertains to a campaign,” Callanen said.
Callanen added that it’s a problem they frequently run into.
There’s also been a lot of talk during this election cycle about “poll watchers.” However, if you want to be a poll watcher, you have to be trained and certified. You can’t simply walk up to a poll and keep an eye on everything.
“One of the phone calls I took today was a couple had come into the poll site, voted, cast their ballot, and then went and sat down. And the election official said, ‘You voted, you need to exit the area.’ And boy they got belligerent that it was their constitutional right and they could watch and see who was coming in,” Callanen said.
Callanen also noted that sometimes people knowingly break the rules. Other times she said that people just truly don't know the rules and she points out that this year, we are seeing more people who have never voted before.