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Counties on Central Coast making sure voters aren’t victims of intimidation

CENTRAL COAST, CALIF. (KION-TV)- Little by little people headed to their local election offices to vote.

With such a pivotal election year counties like Monterey are preparing for this election a little different than in 2022 according to Register of Voters Gina Martinez 

“This is the most complex election our voters will see because the presidential primary rules for the presidential contests are a bit different,” Martinez said. “They're based on party, So there was a lot of additional preparation in terms of preparing voters to know how to get that ballot that they want at the end of the day.”

Much like the County of Monterey is doing, San Benito County is also helping voters make sure they know what they need to do to make sure they vote for the ones they want.

But they also are preparing for potential voter intimidation, just like they saw in the November 2022 elections.

One of the ways some people were causing voter intimidation were through mail ballot boxes. Not necessarily running up to people and confronting them or being next to the ballot boxes.

They were about 30 feet away from the boxes, recording people on their cell phones and their vehicle information as they were submitting their votes into these ballot boxes. 

To ensure this doesn't happen again, San Benito County is partnering with their local officials according to County Clerk and Recorder Francisco Diaz

“We're working closely with our local law enforcement, whether it be the city of Hollister, the Sheriff's department, and also our county administration office,” Diaz said. “We're also putting out information that we’re there and prepared to be able to remove any individual that does step over the line of intimidation.”

Although the County of Monterey says they haven't seen any cases of this, they make sure they’re prepared. 

“We have a significant number of staff on hand who are trained on de-escalation and monitoring, monitoring the area, making sure that we have a safe environment,” Martinez said. “That's something that's incredibly important to us, and there are laws to protect our voters to ensure that they can vote independently and privately with a secret ballot free of intimidation.”

But what about people and voters who are concerned about false or rigged voting? Both counties have an answer for that too.

“We welcome people from the public to come and observe the process,” Diaz said. “So if you're curious or perhaps hesitant or have any concern about whether or not your ballot is going to be counted, you're more than welcome to observe the process from the very beginning to the end.“

The County of Monterey also wants the public to see how they handle votes submitted.

“We want them to come in and see the process firsthand,” Martinez said. “You can see behind me all of the activities that are taking place with ballot processing. You literally can come to one location and watch the entire process of ballot handling in front of you.”

This observation shows you things like signature verification and ballot extraction, to the scanning process and adjudication.

Both counties also offered programs for the public to observe how poll workers are trained. San Benito County offered a ride along program to show how the ballots are picked up from drop boxes.

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46


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