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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Clergy Shooting Indicates Voters May be Fearing Election Day

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As the most populous swing state, Florida is of importance to the presidential election. The residents here come from all around the country, and sometimes nationally, from the 49 states and territories, which make up the Electoral College to make a selection.

As polling sites around the country were nervously apprehensive this weekend about dealing with the results of a highly publicized shooting in a church near Pittsburgh, the Broward County election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, conducted elections and learned that two people who appeared to be armed had showed up and talked to potential voters at a polling site.

That incident, which was the only one she had “as far as we know” on Friday, showed that many federal, state and local election officials must remain alert and prepared to react to any number of unexpected changes in their locations.

“Anywhere it was a new experience, and I knew I had to learn from it,” Ms. Snipes said of the incident.

There are no records of who was in the church that would have allowed people to say. After the shooting in South Carolina, which killed nine parishioners, Florida state officials stepped up security.

Voter Mark Ohnstrand, a construction worker from Delray Beach, was casting his ballot Saturday at the Clam Wave in Fort Lauderdale, unaware of the shooting at the church just hours away.

“I am feeling good about my vote,” he said.

Still, he said he was worried. “In today’s world, you never know what can happen,” he said.

Voters were at polling sites with a much greater fear of potential problems on Election Day.

Polling locations are designed to be safe and welcoming. “People that come to vote shouldn’t feel nervous and concerned, and these incidents just provide that opportunity,” Ms. Snipes said.

She said that officials were uncertain about what the two armed people might have been doing at the Clam Wave. They may have been attempting to cause distraction or intimidating voters.

Krista Williams, an election inspector who had been on the job since 1992, said she would always comply with requests from voters to remove or watch personal belongings. But there was a sense of worry when someone appeared to be carrying a gun.

“There’s a lot of nervousness,” she said.

Miami-Dade election supervisor Susan Bucher said that if there were any cases of intimidation or threats, the deputies would be brought to the polls. And if that happened, “we will not tolerate it.”

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