Bay Area Police Departments Prepare For Potential Post-Election Unrest

5 mins read

The 2020 elections are not unlike the normal ones in the previous years due to the spreading pandemic and surging political unrest. Due to this awareness, the Bay Area police departments dispatched additional staff members and coordinated with other local officers to keep the SF elections under control on Tuesday.

Berkeley police spokesman Byron White revealed to the media that a couple of personnel is required to stay on overtime.

“At this point, I am uncertain where to employ these officers,” stated White. “We may have (added election workforce on Election Day) in the past, but it is not something that we regularly do,” he added.

The cancellation of nonmandatory days off for officers took place on Election day. According to San Francisco police spokeswoman Tiffany Hang, the police department coordinates with the mayor’s office concerning strict security surveillance at the city’s Civic Center polling site.

“We will have sufficient resources to respond to routine calls for service in all of the police districts as well as election-related calls,” expressed Hang. “At this time, the department has decided to cancel discretionary days off to ensure sufficient resources. We decided on making this decision to respond to calls for service in all police districts as well as election-related calls,” she added.

According to San Jose police spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo, his department will be in charge of keeping watch on events during election week. He said that they “do not comment on specific plans (and) tactics.”

The Berkeley police district posted a reminder on the city’s official website and social media about Election Day-related advice concerning the California Elections Code. It emphasizes voter intimidation as a felony, including bringing firearms to polling stations. Showing weapons on election places does not excuse uniformed police officers, private guards, and other security personnel unless they have written authorization from the pertinent city or county elections headquarters.

The Election-Day reminders also include several prohibitions for voters. “Electioneering” within 100 feet of a polling station is forbidden, meaning no vote requesting, initiative circulation, or talking to other voters about their voting qualifications.

Another illegal action on Election Day is vandalism. Removing, tearing, defacing, marking, or destroying stockpiles within 100 feet at a polling place is strictly not allowed. 

The “corruption of the voting process” is considered a felony. According to California law, people cannot be rewarded or paid for voting. Tampering with the voting results count is also barred.

“No person shall interfere with the officers holding an election, or with the voters lawfully exercising their rights of voting in an election,” the code stated, adding, “as to prevent the election or canvass from being fairly helped and lawfully conducted.”

The California law also covers and monitors Election Day-related online activities. According to the code, it states “no person shall commit, through intent mislead, deceive, or defraud, an act of police cyberfraud.”

The code also covers intentional access diversion and redirection from one political website to another site, denying and preventing exit from or putting up false domain names of political websites.

According to election officials, recording numbers of early voters should help prevent the rise of possible Election Day problems. The Contra Costa County assistant registrar of voters Scott Konopasek declared that they trained their workers to deal with or de-escalate circumstances during the election process.

“They are given the non-emergency law enforcement numbers for their location with instructions to call and let the police resolve situations they can’t,” said Konopasek. ‘We have people in the field who often assist if needed, and we coordinate responses from our command center,” he added.

Tim Dupuis, Alameda County Registrar of Voters, revealed that the sheriff’s subordinates would provide additional security to his office as they do each year at the county courthouse in downtown Oakland.

“As of today, 40 percent of our voters have already voted. This weekend, we will open up our 100 Accessible Voting Locations for in-person voting,” Dupuis disclosed, adding, “It is difficult to predict what will happen on Election Day. But currently, it looks like a large percentage of our voters are choosing to vote early.”