Police prepare to provide security to Marion County polling places

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- November 8, 2016, may go down as one of the most contentious voting days in recent history, and IMPD is prepared to respond to calls for help at anyone of the county’s nearly 400 polling sites.

“We have a couple plans,” said Major Rick Riddle. “One is to have all the polling sites monitored by plainclothes officers so if anything occurs at one of these polling sites you will not see a heavy police presence in uniform nor marked police vehicles as to not cause panic and not to have people think something is wrong in there.”

Riddle said while IMPD cars would not be stationed all day at polling sites, they would be patrolling to react quickly if needed.

“We’ve notified IMPD and the prosecutor’s office about potential encouragement of a candidate or encouraging people or watchers that show up at the polling locations with guns so we let them know that was a possibility and be aware of additional calls from us about those types of incidents,” said Russell Hollis, Deputy Director of the Marion County Clerk’s Office.

While neither the clerk nor IMPD is aware of any specific threats toward ballot locations or election workers, voters might be surprised to learn that guns, like selfies, are legal inside Indiana polling places.

“People have taken ballot selfies when they’ve come in for early voting and they’ve been using the hashtag #ivoted,” said Hollis.

A federal judge in Indiana ruled that the secretary of state, the election board and state police cannot prohibit Hoosiers from taking photographs of their ballots and posting them online or showing them to other voters.

“There is an Indiana statute which was passed which prohibits persons from taking photographs of their ballot,” said Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union. “That statute has been enjoined by Judge Sarah Evans Barker under preliminary injunction.”

Hollis said that no Indianapolis locations have opted out of hosting polling sites due to fears of Election Day discord, nor has the clerk determined any sort of threat, either electronically or through hacking, of Marion County’s election process.

The clerk’s office is still short of workers for that day and as a result, may delay reporting election results.

The ACLU will host a First Wednesday panel discussion November 2 at the headquarters of Emmis Communications on Monument Circle at 6 p.m. to explore the issue of “A Free Press or a Free-for-all?” with regards to this year’s election.

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