Florida part of push to protect elections from ‘rogue’ poll workers
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polling place poll worker
The guidelines were first established in 2022 after reports of election worker threats and potential poll worker interference.

The Brennan Center for Justice, along with the group All Voting is Local, has updated its guides for election officials in swing states aimed at blocking “rogue” poll workers from interfering in elections.

The new guide is an updated version of guidance issued in 2022 created in response to reports that election deniers who believed falsehoods about the outcome of the 2020 election were being recruited to work as poll workers across the country.

The updated guidance, which explains laws preventing intimidation, harassment and improper influence over voters, focuses on Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Each guide is specifically written to include applicable state laws and other information aimed at ensuring a smooth, fair and free election process.

The Florida guide includes information on poll worker eligibility, the chain of command used at the polls, applicable laws and enforcement mechanisms.

To be a poll worker, individuals must train prior to each Primary, General or Special Election, which applies to both clerks and inspectors, the two types of poll workers under Florida law.

The training includes information on etiquette and sensitivity training related to voters with disabilities and the uniform polling place procedures manual. The training is at least three hours long. Poll workers must also demonstrate “a working knowledge of the laws and procedures relating to voter registration, voting system operation, balloting and polling place procedures, and problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.”

Florida law requires poll workers to answer only to their county supervisor, which can be a designated representative from the county Supervisor of Elections. The guide reminds that means individuals cannot answer to “a political party or any party officials” and that “those who refuse to comply may be removed and replaced by the supervisor.”

“To ensure fairness and the nonpartisan execution of election duties, election boards must consist of poll workers from both political parties,” the guide notes.

Each polling place is assigned a clerk who manages and oversees the polling place on Election Day. The location is staffed by inspectors who may assist the clerk. Other positions are also available as needed, such as assistant clerks, precinct techs, and equipment managers.

Florida law also requires that a deputy sheriff be assigned to each polling place to maintain “good order outside the polling location by, for example, organizing the line of voters.” The deputies are not in uniform, nor are they armed.

Florida also has several laws related to polling places, including that no person, including polls workers, may intimidate or harass voters. Both federal and state law prohibits threats or coercion of voters and violators are subject to civil and criminal liability. Florida law further bars “bribery, menace, threat, or other corruption” that could influence, deceive or deter any voters.

Additionally, poll workers are barred from disrupting elections through disinformation and from interfering with or attempting to influence voters. They also may not prevent eligible voters from casting a ballot or tamper with voting systems or election equipment.

Enforcement options in Florida include screening poll worker candidates to ensure criteria is met, providing adequate poll worker training and requiring the removal of poll workers who do not comply with applicable laws. Florida law provides a process for dispute resolution by escalating issues through the chain of command.

The guidelines were first established in 2022 after reports of election worker threats and potential poll worker interference.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, issued a brief in 2022 outlining various security concerns.

“Since 2020, there have been several isolated incidents in which temporary election workers attempted to undermine election administration in pursuit of partisan goals,” the group said, noting that there was “mounting concern that temporary election workers recruited and trained by organizations with nefarious intent may undermine security and trust in the election process.”

NPR reported that year that conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who attempted to help former President Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election, worked in 2022 to recruit right-wing activists to serve as poll workers. A Republican poll worker in Michigan was charged with a felony for allegedly tampering with a computer used in the state’s August Primary that year, according to Michigan Public, a local NPR station.

The Guardian offered additional reporting in 2022 about training sessions led by activists who believed the 2020 election was stolen, which Mitchell led under the title “election integrity summits. The operation is part of the Election Integrity Network, which “created opportunities to develop and share research and information, develop policy proposals and create legal strategies.”

“There are signs that the same recruitment is happening again in 2024,” an announcement about the updated guides from All Voting is Local reads.

“It is critical for states to protect voters and our election system from attempts by election deniers to interfere with our elections.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 25, 2024 at 11:48 am

    Rogue poll workers? Really?

    It’s the G0P Secretaries of State you got to watch out for. They provide funding and equipment and make up rules and implementation schedules that impact local precincts and can done in specifically designed ways to impact some precincts more than others, such as impacting city precincts more than rural ones.

    They combine precincts to create long lines as needed for discouraging voters at left leaning (ie city) precincts.

    And it’s all done within the bounds of law.

    But people want to say there’s rogue poll workers. LOFL

    • PeterH

      March 25, 2024 at 1:45 pm

      🙀🙀…..so true and well said!

    • Mules for Biden

      March 26, 2024 at 9:06 pm

      So why did the poll workers in PA cover the windows when they were count8ng the votes? Why were people (mules) dumping ballots into ballot boxes at odd hours of the night and early morning? Do you really believe that Joe Biden generated more excitement at the voting booth than Barack Hussein Obama? Really? There was definitely a very organized voter harvesting campaign back in 2000.

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