Final preps wrap up before Election Day 2020
Clerks of court prepared to deal with any attempts at intimidation or passive electioneering
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — For most of us, you might call this election eve the proverbial quiet before the storm with so much activity expected on Election Day.
But behind the scenes, there’s been a buzz of activity to prepare for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
There is simply so much taking place and needing to take place before the polls open.
That’s why we asked the chief elections officers for Bossier and Caddo parishes when they began to prepare for the 2020 presidential election.
Their response: All year.
And it makes perfect sense when you have to find, train and retain hundreds and hundreds of voting commissioners, known by many as poll workers.
The 400-plus voting machines in Caddo were tested Friday, Oct. 30, and were delivered to the 150 precincts at 85 different locations.
It’s a huge job. And it is one repeated throughout Louisiana, including right across the Red River in Bossier.
That’s where their 195 voting machines arrived at 48 locations throughout that parish.
We caught up with one of the voting machine movers, Che' Manning, wanting to know about the logistics involved to get all the machines to all the locations.
“The biggest challenge is usually around 3 o’clock when school’s getting out," Manning said. "You have to kind of wait and let the buses proceed through and then kind of try to weave your way in after the buses, get in and get out. So it’s usually the traffic.”
Well over 47 percent of Louisiana voters have cast their ballots through the mail or with in-person early voting, according to the United States Elections Project.
Despite that fact, it is still expected to be a very busy Election Day Tuesday.
As longtime Caddo Clerk of Court Mike Spence can easily attest, you’ve got to be ready for the unexpected. And this election eve brought one more example of that hard and fast rule.
“Right off the bat, we heard there was a water line break at Linwood Charter. But they’re gonna have that fixed.”
Since arriving at the Caddo Clerk of Court Office when Jimmy Carter was still President, in 1978, Spence thought he’d pretty much seen everything.
Then came COVID-19 and all the precautions that had come with it for Election Day.
And that’s not the half of it, according to Spence, when you consider there will be 800 or so commissioners at the polling locations.
“There’s so much we can’t control. We can’t control people waking up on time, even though they’re going to get a text message at 5 a.m. tomorrow. But we just never know what will happen on Election Day.”
Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Jill Sessions told us the one message she would want voters to hear before they go to their polling location Tuesday.
“Please do not wear anything with any political propaganda on your clothing or your mask because if you have anything tied to any party, we will ask that you either take it off or turn it inside outwards.”
We also asked Sessions to identify the one election worry that might keep her up at night.
“The most disturbing fact to me, and now like I said, you know, this is Bossier Parish, I don’t really see much. But the most disturbing thought to me is that someone tries to intimidate one of our voters. And that’s where I come in.”
If that kind of intimidation is happening within 600 feet of a polling location, Sessions said, she’s coordinated closely with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office to be able to respond right away if necessary.
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