Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul issues warnings about voter intimidation

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The November midterm election is a month away and the Wisconsin Department of Justice is reminding people voter intimidation is illegal.

When voters head to the polls, most want to cast their ballots and head home.

“Wisconsinites should feel very comfortable going to their polling places,” said Wisconsin Attorney General, Josh Kaul.

As the election draws closer, AG Kaul is warning voters about people who may try to interfere with the voting process.

“Voter intimidation is the use of threats to try to interfere with somebody’s ability to lawfully cast their ballot or try to impact how they cast their ballot,” said Kaul.

It can include verbal threats, being aggressive, and following voters around. Anyone can sign up and watch people cast their ballots, that’s referred to as poll watching, but when you’re being disruptive or aggressive, Kaul says that’s when it may become a form of voter intimidation.

“Something is happening out in the parking lot, someone is intimidating them out there, following them to and from the polls, then you definitely want to call law enforcement and get them involved,” said La Crosse County Clerk, Ginny Dankmeyer.

Dankmeyer says while incidents of voter intimidation are low in the Coulee Region, poll workers are trained to prevent it.

“Diffuse it the best we can without causing more disruptions or bringing attention to the matter,” said Dankmeyer.

AG Kaul says if voters experience voter intimidation, they should contact local law enforcement agencies.

“Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors around the state have a guide right at hand that they can look to as they’re determining whether there’s any potential criminal activity that’s happening,” said Kaul.

Dankmeyer says voters can also notify poll workers and chief inspectors at their polling locations.

“The polling places are as safe as we can make them. Poll workers are trained, chief inspectors are trained to help diffuse situations,” said Dankmeyer.

She says everyone should be able to exercise their right to vote without any fear.

“A lot of times people just want to go to the poll, cast their ballot and leave,” Dankmeyer said.

Poll workers will go through election day training, including how to handle voter intimidation at the end of October. The midterm election is Tuesday, Nov. 8th.