Over the years, Iowa’s polling places have been a shining example of Iowa “nice” – where friends and neighbors come together to celebrate their civic duty by electing community members to local government offices, as well as, elect candidates to State and Federal offices.
Every now and then, someone decides to “act out” at a polling place on election day. Or a poll watcher, who is supposed to be “watching” decides to interject himself or herself into the election process in a manner that may be disturbing to voters and/or the precinct election officials.
Iowa law is very specific that peace shall be maintained at early voting/absentee polling places and at the polls on Election Day. And the Legislature has given precinct election officials the power to order the arrest of persons disturbing the peace.
49.105 Ordering arrest.
Any precinct election official shall order the arrest of any person who behaves in a noisy, riotous, tumultuous or disorderly manner at or about the polls, so as to disturb the election, or insults or abuses the officials, or commits a breach of the peace, or violates any of the provisions of this chapter. If the person so arrested is a registered voter of the precinct which that polling place serves, and has not yet voted, the person shall be permitted to do so before being removed from the polling place.
If you are going to be a poll watcher on election day, please review the Poll Watchers Guide. And keep in mind, poll watchers may not:
Handle the ballots, voting equipment, or election register,
Disenfranchise voters by encouraging challenged voters to cast provisional ballots in precincts where they do not live,
Engage in arguments with PEOs, voters, or other poll watchers,
Interrupt, hinder, oppose, or talk to a voter while in line or while the voter is approaching the polling place,
Solicit votes for candidates or questions,
Offer advice or literature to voters,
Wear buttons, stickers, jewelry, or clothing of a political nature, or
Use polling place supplies.
-Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor