FL voting rights group deploying volunteer ‘poll monitors’ at polling sites

By: - October 28, 2020 5:11 pm

Polling place in Florida’s state capital, on primary election day, Aug. 18, 2020. Credit: Diane Rado.

In a contentious election year, a nonpartisan group plans to ensure voters in battleground states such as Florida are protected from intimidation, misinformation and other potential issues at polling sites on Election Day.

Common Cause Florida, a grassroots nonpartisan organization, has already recruited 2,500 volunteers through its Election Protection program to help voters navigate the voting process and address any issues, said the organization’s state chair Liza McClenaghan.

Those volunteers will work in social media roles and as nonpartisan “poll monitors,” McClenaghan said in a virtual press conference Wednesday.

Nearly 1,000 poll monitors have been trained in Florida, McClenaghan said.

According to its website, poll monitors assist voters with reporting and resolving “issues that arise at the polling places.” They don’t enter polling sites “except in limited circumstances” and they can either stay in a car or stand outside polling sites.

“We are deploying our poll monitors in 25 major counties, but we are covering most of the state, probably 55 counties (of the 67), with smaller groups of folks who are those enthusiastic volunteers who want to do something this election cycle,” McClenaghan said.

She also said social media monitoring involves answering questions from voters on various platforms.

“So they can track information that voters are posting on Facebook or Twitter or private accounts to respond to their questions and issues and make sure they are addressed as expeditiously as possible,” she added.

To address voter intimidation concerns, the organization has sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, to let Florida voters know that intimidation tactics “will not be tolerated,” McClenaghan said. Moody hasn’t responded to the letter thus far.

Other elections experts on the video call were from three other swing states in the South including North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

In Georgia, early voting locations have experienced issues such as massive lines to vote, said Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.

“We’ve had very long lines in Georgia, from 30 minutes ranging to nine hours in line…it shouldn’t take hours to vote,” she said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.