Any Riverside County resident, member of an organization or political group is welcome to observe election activities at polling stations countywide on Nov. 3, as long as they remain respectful of voters and do not create a disturbance, the Registrar of Voters said Thursday.
“All election activities in Riverside County are open for public observation,” Registrar Rebecca Spencer told City News Service. “The main rule is that observers cannot interfere or interrupt the election process.”
During Tuesday’s presidential debate, President Donald Trump repeated his unproven claims of widespread electoral fraud and urged his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen.”
According to Spencer, people of any political stripe are permitted to stand outside or inside polling places in Riverside County, but she noted that individuals who request to be within a precinct station must observe social distancing, and because of that requirement, only a few people may be allowed inside.
“We ask that observers introduce themselves to the poll workers, and the poll workers will let them know what area of the room can be used for observation,” the registrar said. “The observers cannot touch any election material and cannot approach voters inside the polling place.”
The California Elections Code, specifically sections 18370 and 18371, prohibits “electioneering” activity within 100 feet of polling places. That includes asking voters who they support, circulating petitions or offering to assist a voter in marking his or her ballot.
In previous elections, civic advocacy groups have observed election activities in Riverside County, and in 2008, Save-R-Vote of Temecula Valley highlighted a number of deficiencies from the June primary that year. The group’s president, the late Tom Courbat, a former county chief financial officer, revealed problems with securing ballots that were transferred from precincts to collection centers.
The findings led the Board of Supervisors to order an audit of the Office of the Registrar of Voters, which became the basis for operational modifications that were instituted in the ensuing years.
The county, however, continues to contend with some lingering issues, including the expeditious posting of results on election night. As an assemblyman in 2010, current board Chairman Manuel Perez was among signatories to a letter calling for changes to make the county’s ballot processing apparatus work more efficiently.
According to Spencer, there will be at least 120 polling places available countywide, though the emphasis this year is on vote-by-mail ballots in deference to public health protocols.
There will be 80 vote-by-mail drop-off locations, including libraries, senior centers, municipal and county offices, that will be established over the next week.
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