By Carole Fineberg
We’ve learned a lot from Poll-watching… and it has been a rough learning curve.
1) Every polling place had 2 chairs designated for Poll Observers. In theory, it was supposed to be 1 representative from each of the two major parties, Democrat and Republican. That meant there could be no husband-wife teams and no partners who want to work together.
We were caught completely unaware that there would be busloads of Democrats brought here from the Bay Area, Oregon and Washington to also poll-watch by the DNC. Most were attorneys. They would get off the bus and when asked for their party affiliation, they could respond Democrat or non-partisan or Libertarian or Independent. And suddenly the conventional ‘rule’ changed and it was any two different political parties who could be seated. So a Dem and a Libertarian could be seated and we would get bumped or have to trade off every hour. Some of these CA, OR and WA attorneys were staying as long as 3 weeks, which begs the question – How can an attorney afford to spend 2-3 weeks in Reno, not on vacation, not visiting family, but watching paint dry at a polling place?
The Supervisor in charge of each polling place has the authority to staff the poll-watching with a shift change every hour. A sign-up sheet was used and one could sign up for a 1-hour shift at some point later on (if not available now) and was told to go home or go away and come back at such-and-such time. Some of the Supervisors in charge didn’t care about party affiliation, just the next 2 names on the list would be called, regardless of party affiliation.
2) At the Sparks and North Valleys Libraries, there were tents, tables and literature set up for Biden. On opening day of early voting, October 17, they were passing out bottles of water to people in line to vote. The lines were 2 hrs long at one point. Later on, they were handing out free tacos. A candidate running for Sparks City Council was “working the line” at the Sparks Library, talking to voters. ALL THIS WAS HAPPENING 101 FEET FROM THE DOOR of the Polling Place and we couldn’t do a single thing about it if more than 100′. Loud Mexican music was playing and the press was there interviewing the candidate and others. It diminished some, but in the 2nd week of Early Voting, they hired food trucks to provide free food for all.
On Monday, Oct. 26, there was a Biden-Harris sign in the window of the food truck. A call from me to the Registrar got the sign removed, but the food truck stayed. Thereafter, when asked who is paying for this “free food for all”, the food truck driver would say “a non-profit organization.” When queried further, we were told they “couldn’t say who.”
3) Yes, all was reported to our Hotline (multiple times) and to the Registrar of Voters (multiple times) and there was precious little we could do.
4) Every Democrat poll-watcher violated everything we were taught: no using cell phones for any reason in the polling area. If we needed to make or receive a call, we should vacate the poll-watching chair, leave the area and go outside. They were on their phones constantly inside the polling place. The supervisors did not seem to stop them.
We were taught no engaging or interacting with the voters or the poll workers. The Dems brought in doughnuts for the poll workers each morning, “as things just go more smoothly when we do nice things for the workers.” What things??? This happened at both Sparks Library and Spanish Springs Library. Both locations seemed to be a ‘hot spot’ at all times for all kinds of shenanigans.
The Dems were known to chase after voters, once they had voted, voted provisionally, or been denied the opportunity to vote. They could be seen talking to the voter, handing him/her a business card.
With very keen 20/20 hindsight, it appears their entire reason for being there, might have been to distract us, confuse us and obfuscate what was happening at the intake desk or at the machines, which was our purpose for being there. They didn’t seem to be observing at all.
There were anomalies here and there throughout Early Voting and on Election Day, but none so strange as the Democrat attorneys sent from other states to observe with us.
I am hoping to have a Nevada Legislator sponsor a bill to make all poll-watchers in Nevada be registered to vote in Nevada and be a permanent resident of Nevada. Who wouldn’t want Nevada elections to be run by Nevadans?
Carole Fineberg is the Field Operations Chair for the Washoe County Republican Party.