BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Law enforcement both in our area and statewide are spending the next few days finalizing their election day plans as fears of voter intimidation remain with politics continuing to heat up.
At the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, Major Jon Wilks said their deputies will be prepared for Nov. 3. They’ll have all their normal tools, but they’ll also have a new book consisting of all the specific laws and statues they might need to reference.
“With all the election laws and also polling laws for locations and we’ve distributed that to all the deputies," Wilks said. "Also all the locations we’re working well with the registrar’s office to make the polling locations a safe place to be.”
The book in Bedford is similar to the video Attorney General Mark Herring released Thursday to help people know what’s legal and what’s not.
I've produced a short training video on voter protections to lay out the tools law enforcement and elections officials have should the need arise, but I hope that it doesn't.— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) October 29, 2020
We will not tolerate voter intimidation or harassment of any kind in Virginia.https://t.co/AGk0CsMbkJ
Virginia State Police troopers are not expected to be at polling locations, but will be nearby if needed — and Herring told 10 News he likes that plan.
“Historically, in some places in the past, law enforcement had been seen as a part of the intimidation so I think it’s very often best that law enforcement not be at a polling place if it’s not necessary," Herring said.
Supporters of President Trump were accused of intimidating voters in Fairfax County last month during early voting. Both Herring and Governor Ralph Northam said they stand ready to handle those breaking the law.
“I want Virginians to vote, that’s the number one message, but I also want them to know that every vote will be counted in Virginia and it’s going to be done safely," Northam said.
In Bedford County, deputies are not expected to post up at precincts either, but will be in the area with their eyes and ears open. Wilks said it doesn’t matter who your party is, their mission is the same.
“Our main goal is just voter safety, everybody get out and vote and make it safe for them out at the polls. Whether it be this election or any other election we have that same goal any other time," Wilks said.