Election security ramps up in Chicago before midterms
Politicos and city officials are gearing up for a potentially contentious and dangerous midterm election.
Why it matters: Following baseless claims of widespread 2020 election fraud, the Illinois GOP launched an "election integrity" program this year led in part by election deniers.
- The local program involves GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey recruiting poll watchers to monitor what he calls "high-risk precincts."
- Bailey's office later told the Tribune he meant precincts with "ultra-high levels" of turnout.
The intrigue: Despite his election skepticism, Bailey is urging supporters to vote early and by mail — the very method former President Trump has falsely linked to voter fraud.
State of play: State election officials say they're sharing this video with poll workers on how to identify and handle potential violence at election sites.
- It warns workers to look out for people "pacing" around with a "clenched jaw or balled fists" and offers techniques for de-escalation and escaping.
- Plus, 400 off-duty or retired law enforcement officers will serve as "election investigators" to "address security concerns and risks for the safety of our poll workers," Max Bever of the Chicago Board of Elections tells Axios.
How it works: The investigators will work in the city's polling places to "maintain a secure and orderly election process" and "ensure polls close on time," Bever says.
- Other tasks include responding to complaints and removing election judges if instructed by the Board of Elections.
What they're saying: Poll workers had to deal with angry mask-refusing voters in 2020, but Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich tells Axios, "This time around, voters are more likely to display anger rooted in suspicion of election fraud."
Of note: National polls show 25% of Democrats and nearly 40% of Republican voters will probably blame election fraud if their party doesn't win control of Congress this year.
- And mayors are getting warnings that extremist groups will be targeting local elections across the country.
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