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Voting rights groups concerned about overpolicing at polling places after Morales guidance

Lawn signs outside of a polling place. The most prominent, in the center of the photo, reads "Official Vote Center Open 6 AM to 6 PM"
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
There have been concerns and reports from election officials around the country about a growing number of threats ahead of the 2024 election.

A group of nearly a dozen voting rights organizations are worried that recent guidance from Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales could lead to overpolicing at polling places.

The group sent a letter to Morales outlining its concerns.

Morales recently sent hundreds of officials across the state a 180-page election security guide. Part of it encourages a greater law enforcement presence at the polls to help protect election workers.

Common Cause Indiana Executive Director Julia Vaughn said protecting those workers is important.

“Our coalition is very concerned about the possibilities for election interference in the general election,” Vaughn said.

And she said there are extreme situations where law enforcement does need to step in. But Vaughn said, particularly in communities of color, a police presence at the polls has a sinister history.

“There was a technique used for years here in Indiana in certain communities where, in an effort to suppress the vote, police cars would be parked outside of polling places with the hope that that would keep certain folks from coming inside,” Vaughn said.

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Vaughn said there are other options for protecting poll workers, including de-escalation training.

“When you call the police, that’s exactly the opposite. Tensions tend to rise,” Vaughn said. “This rush to get the police involved — that should be the last approach.”

Vaughn said she and the other organizations hope to meet with Morales to discuss the issue.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.