|RICHMOND (October 29, 2020) – Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Attorney General Mark R. Herring has produced a short training video for key law enforcement and elections officials that walks through his recent opinion on protections against voter intimidation and harassment that exist in both state and federal law, and the tools available to various elections and law enforcement officials for addressing potentially unlawful conduct. This is part of a larger effort by Attorney General Herring to protect Virginia voters from illegal harassment or intimidation at the polls.
Attorney General Herring has sent the training video to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia, and the Virginia Electoral Board Association highlighting the guidance outlined in an advisory opinion he issued last month about the protections in both state and federal law that protect Virginians from illegal voter harassment and intimidation at the polls. The video also gives examples of different conduct and behavior that could constitute voter intimidation or harassment.
“I want to make sure that every Virginian feels safe and comfortable when they come to the polls to vote, whether they choose to vote early or on Election Day. I also wanted to make it clear that voter intimidation and harassment are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Virginia,” said Attorney General Herring. “This election cycle has presented us with numerous challenges, many of which have stemmed from the dangerous rhetoric coming from President Trump. I hope that all of this guidance has given law enforcement and elections officials a clear understanding of the tools they have at their disposal should any voter harassment or intimidation occur over the next few days.”
Ensuring that Virginians feel comfortable and protected at polling places across the Commonwealth has been a top priority for Attorney General Herring over the past month in the lead up to this year’s general election. Initially, Attorney General Herring issued an advisory opinion on September 24, 2020 outlining protections in both state and federal law against voter intimidation and harassment in response to “reports of activity near polling places that led some voters to fear for their safety while waiting to cast their vote, or led them to believe that they would be harmed for supporting a particular candidate.”
After President Trump urged his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” at the first presidential debate, Attorney General Herring reiterated that there are protections in place to prevent voter intimidation and harassment and outlined the actual duties of poll watchers in Virginia.
Additionally, Attorney General Herring wrote to key law enforcement and elections stakeholder organizations asking for their commitment to ensuring a safe, fair, free, and accurate election, and outlining protections in both state and federal law to prevent voter intimidation and harassment.