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Early Voting - Police Intimidation

by J.R. McMillan
Nov 3, 2012
1700 Morse Road - Columbus, OH 43229
The line started shortly after 6am on the first weekend day of in-person early voting at 1700 Morse Road — the only such location in greater Columbus, a city both campaigns and pollsters agree may decide the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Though voters were largely willing to brave the darkness, autumn chill and extended lines for the opportunity to vote early — concerns about the significant police presence generated more questions than answers. Franklin County sheriff's cruisers, Columbus Police squad cars and an assortment of unmarked Crown Victorias made slow passes in front of the orderly queue of voters whose enthusiasm was dampened by suspicion and a history of voter suppression tactics. The polls opened at 8am and the former department store soon swelled to capacity inside as a steady surge of voters keeping warm in their cars converged from the parking lot — Meanwhile law enforcement positioned themselves inside and outside the entrances in addition to private security personnel. A broad yellow line demarked the legal 100 feet radius from the entrance, and was respected by all campaigns and causes. Though that didn't prevent law enforcement from parking inside the line, despite the Franklin County Sheriff himself being on the ballot. Though the morning was not without controversy, when some folks parked well outside the yellow line were told to move their vehicles or they would be towed away. Despite these heated exchanges, law enforcement made no attempt to intervene — thus begging the question, why with a Columbus Police substation literally across the road with at least a dozen cruisers and a paddy wagon was it necessary to have more than 20 uniformed police officers patrolling a polling location and visibility intimidating voters. This is JR McMillan in Columbus Ohio with Video the Vote.