Poll observer questioned at Calhoun Center

A Republican poll observer in today’s election reported to local Historic City News editor Michael Gold that he was asked to stop recording the identities of voters as the showed up to cast their ballots at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center today.

Properly credentialed by the Supervisor of Elections Office, the volunteer began about one hour after the precinct opened at 7:00 a.m. this morning. He had a handheld wireless phone application that connected him to a voter database that listed registered voters for Precinct 301.

As a voter picked up their ballot, the observer was to click-off the name from the database; indicating to the Republican Party that a ballot had been cast.

When asked, Historic City News was told that the information could be used to identify voters that should be reminded that today is the last day to vote in the General Election. Likewise, voters who have already cast a ballot need not be called by volunteers who are working in phone banks at locations around the state.

The Supervisor of Elections provides guidelines to precinct observers who are permitted to be present while voting is underway; so long as their actions are not disruptive. According to the Election Office worker who spoke to us, although the observer was not making too much noise or interfering with the elections officials, some voters were intimidated by him recording the information.

A representative from the St Johns County Democratic Party, who was also at the precinct observing the election, told reporters that she felt what the Republican poll worker was doing went beyond what he should. “We are here to be sure that the process goes smoothly, that access to the polls is unobstructed, and that no one interferes with voters attempting to cast a ballot,” we were told.

The elections official assigned to Precinct 301 retrieved one box of ballot receipts and informed the observer that he could inspect the receipts, under her supervision, for 30 minutes — at a location away from the desk where voters were actually picking up the ballots.

The observer said that he felt such a limitation would make his contribution to the process of little or no benefit to the Republican Party, where he had volunteered. The observer had his Thermos with him and told us that he was at the polling place for the day and had prepared himself to observe the process until the precinct closed at 7:00 p.m.