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Hillsborough and Pinellas officials say they've been free of voter intimidation during early voting

Voters wait in line for Early Voting.
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
A line of people winds around the Regency Park Branch Library in New Port Richey on the first day of early voting in 2020.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says so far, there have been no instances of early voting intimidation that's been seen in other states like Arizona.

Election officials in Central Florida say they've seen instances of voter intimidation at early voting sites. Meanwhile, officials from supervisors of election offices in the greater Tampa Bay region say the process has gone smoothly.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says so far, there have been no instances of early voting intimidation that's been seen in other states like Arizona.

He says Florida's elections laws makes it easier to avoid intimidation and promote a safe voting experience.

"They're outside that 150-foot no solicitation zone, which you can park inside of, and walk inside without any worry at all about intimidation or being molested by somebody," Latimer said.

He says there are ongoing talks with officials across the country on how to prevent voter intimidation.

"We as election officials are trying to engage the law enforcement community to make them aware that, you know, in some areas, there are real threats going on against poll workers,” Latimer said. “And what can we do? And what can law enforcement do to mitigate those things? So there's not only local conversations and state conversations, but there's national conversations going on."

Dustin Chase, a deputy elections supervisor in Pinellas County, says ballot intake stations in the region are staffed to make sure they're secure.

"We only have one drive-through facility that's here at the election service center. It's staffed by three deputized election employees," Chase said.

Chase also says the staff in his office are making sure they're preventing potential cyberattacks as well.

"The number one way that a cyberattack would happen is by an individual or a person making an error by clicking a link, or by putting a USB into a computer,” Chase said. “We have a lot of protocols in place so that people know not to do that stuff. We're constantly testing them."

Chase also says the community has been great with political engagement and education, making it easier to fight off misinformation on election safety.

Both offices are reporting turnout rates for early voting akin to the 2018 midterm elections.

Latimer and Chase say they're in constant communication with other offices throughout the state to share ideas and safety strategies ahead of Tuesday's general election.

Early voting in both counties runs through Sunday, Nov. 6. A list of early voting locations can be found on the Hillsborough and Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Office website.

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