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Local law enforcement step up patrols on Election Day

“The national narrative across the U.S. is pretty concerning,” Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall said. “I don’t want anybody to be concerned about exercising their rights.”|

The sheriffs of Sonoma, Mendocino and Marin counties have all announced increased patrols near polling places on Election Day.

While the increased resources are not a new decision — rather, they typically are deployed during elections — Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall said tensions surrounding the Nov. 3 election drove him to publicize that sheriff’s deputies will be present to guard people’s right to vote safely and securely.

“The national narrative across the U.S. is pretty concerning,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to be concerned about exercising their rights.”

This election, during which unauthorized ballot boxes were set up in California, other ballot boxes have been set on fire and President Trump has called for people to go and “watch very carefully” at polling locations, has been the subject of controversy and confusion. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a bulletin to California law enforcement agencies on Oct. 29 with information on voter intimidation and interference.

“The guidance comes on the heels of questions that have arisen about what is and isn’t allowed at polling places and voting locations,” a news release from his office said.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies will be patrolling the areas near voting locations throughout Election Day, Kendall said.

PUBLIC SAFETY MESSAGE - ELECTION DAY 2020 The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office recognizes this year's United States...

Posted by Mendocino Sheriff on Monday, November 2, 2020

In Sonoma County, deputies are deployed to the main voting location, the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters. Misti Wood, community engagement liaison with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, said that in addition to ensuring no rights are violated, deputies are available to help with traffic flow as large numbers of voters drive or walk to the office.

High voter turnout is driving the increased presence of Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies, including in the days leading up to Tuesday. The Registrar’s Office requested more deputies to be on site for Election Day, she said.

Wood said she dropped off her own ballot Monday evening, and “it was a zoo.”

“I expect today will be just as busy if not busier,” she said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office sent out a public announcement a few weeks ago telling people what behaviors are not allowed at polling places, including campaigning within 100 feet.

(Español abajo) Safety Message to Voters from your Sheriff's Office Given the high-profile nature of the November 3,...

Posted by Sonoma Sheriff on Thursday, October 15, 2020

“We wanted the voters to know all local law enforcement agencies support your right to vote safely and securely,” Wood said.

Voters can report unlawful activity at voting locations to whichever local law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over that location, or to the county elections office. Reports can also be made to the California Secretary of State’s Office at 1-800-345-VOTE (8683) or votesure@sos.ca.gov.

Deva Marie Proto, Sonoma County clerk-record-assessor, said around 9 a.m. Tuesday that Christ Church United Methodist in Santa Rosa, the Windsor Civic Center and the Petaluma Community Center were some of the busiest voting locations in the county.

She said her office had not been made aware of any reports of voter intimidation or interference.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.

Kaylee Tornay

Education, The Press Democrat

Learning is a transformative experience. Beyond that, it’s a right, under the law, for every child in this country. But we also look to local schools to do much more than teach children; they are tasked with feeding them, socializing them and offering skills in leadership and civics. My job is to help you make sense of K-12 education in Sonoma County and beyond.  

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