CA secretary of state makes voter safety top priority

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – Making sure this election is safe and secure is the top priority for the secretary of state’s office. 

“Nearly nine million people already have their ballots in!” Alex Padilla said.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla says his office and county elections officials across the state are taking steps to ensure voters are safe and ballots are protected. 

Padilla says so far in early voting, there have been no incidents of voter harassment or intimidation at the polls. 

His office last month sent an unprecedented memo to county elections officials rehashing voter intimidation laws and consequences as discussions ramp up on “poll watchers.”

“Folks who are there to observe cannot interfere with the administration of elections, and certainly they can’t cross the line to try and harass or intimidate somebody trying to exercise their right to vote. Elections supervisors are trained to make sure the election goes smoothly, including being trained on de-escalate, maybe some tense situations,” Padilla said.

So will law enforcement be involved here, mainly leaving it up to poll workers?

“Law enforcement is on standby should they be necessary but that is never the first step in responding to an incident. Every incident may be a little different, we hope to nip it in the bud,” Padilla said.

With about 40% of ballots already returned, Padilla says county elections officials are working to keep those secure.

“Ballots are maintained in high-security areas, only official people have access to these types of rooms, they have multiple locks, etc.” Padilla said.

Elections officials have just days left to keep these safeguards in place before the counting begins.

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