According to the ER, some voters filed complaints against Security National for “campaigning” at precincts by wearing their Marina Center T-Shirts in large numbers at the polling locations. And apparently some of the complaints alleged a little more than simply loitering with their shirts on.
But the number of complaints that came in was “unusual,” he said.
“The complaints were that they were blocking access,” McWilliams said. “Grace Baptist Church confirmed they were blocking the entrance and the voters said they were rude and obnoxious.”
There is an unobtrusive way to check rosters, he said.
“If they’re efficient, you have one person reading off who voted from the hanging roster and you have one person marking it off,” McWilliams said. “Sounds to me like they were not efficient.”
As I explained yesterday, they most certainly were not efficient.
He said a “second ancillary issue” was whether SN was advocating for the Marina Center, which would not be allowed.
Even though Marina Center was not technically on the ballot this time, it doesn’t change its integral role in the election mindset of many, McWilliams said.
“The Marina Center project was one of the most vociferous, cantankerous components of the Eureka City Council, Eureka mayor and 4th District Supervisor elections,” he said.
SN Senior Vice President Brian Morrissey said the company had no one out at the polls “advocating for anything.”
“We certainly offered our employees a chance to participate,” he said. “We were not advocating for any candidate or measure.”
“The Marina Center is not a political issue,” he added. “We did, through our employees and volunteers, friends and family, we did encourage people to vote yesterday.”
Morrissey said one poll worker had suggested that wearing that sweatshirt was “advocacy.”
“It was interesting to me that while they were saying that wearing a Marina Center sweatshirt was advocacy, I think they even ruled that wearing buttons of candidates was not advocacy.”
Okay, with all due respect to Brian, the Marina Center proposal is very much a political issue. Just ask Fleming who made it the mantlepiece of her campaign.
But with regard to the buttons and/or t-shirts the tolerance at polling locations differs from official to official. About 25 years ago a good friend of mine entered a polling place to vote wearing a Polish Solidarity Union button which looked substantially as follows.
He was asked to remove it, even though Lech Walesa was clearly not on the ballot. On the other hand, in June I went to vote with my son who happened to be wearing his t-shirt which reads “My Grandmother is a Grandmother for Peace” with a mushroom cloud obscured by a universal negation symbol (red circle and slash). My friend’s flashing into mind, I was concerned as we entered the precinct, but none of the workers batted an eye. Apparently there is a bit of subjectivity involved.
Greg Connors e-mailed me a copy of the applicable elections code, but I can’t access that e-mail from here. I’ll update with the text tonight.
As I’ve said I didn’t see anything I felt was improper other than monopolizing the lists for extended periods of time, which I believe was a product of inefficiency rather than malice. However, I did neglect to add one anecdote. Late in the day we were checking over one of the lists when one of the poll workers came over and told us “You have no right to interfere with our work.” We were perplexed, until she explained quite firmly that we were violating election law by writing on the lists. I explained our process and told her that it wasn’t us and jokingly said “it was probably one of the evil empire guys.” Her guard went down immediately when she realized we weren’t Security National. She apologized and went off to find a SN person to yell at.
They clearly didn’t win any points with poll workers.
Update: Well, the local Democrats are urging people who had run-ins to file complaints with the D.A. – and an intro talking about nullification of the election results (we don’t even know what they are yet) and jail sentences. Wow! I didn’t experience any intimidation, but I was only in two places. So I guess the question will be whether this is partisanship or a real concern, and I’m sure you’ll weigh in. I’d like to hear more details. What exactly happened at Grace Baptist Church? Anybody reading this who was there?