NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — On a national level, there have been fears of political violence surrounding midterm elections. According to NBC News, a bulletin sent out to law enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security warned of domestic violent extremism surrounding the midterms.
Both Benton and Washington County officials say you shouldn’t be worried about safety at local elections. Neither has received any threats, and they don’t think there’s any reason to believe political violence could spark at a voting location.
However, that doesn’t mean the counties aren’t prepared. In Washington County, Jennifer Price, the director of elections, said the county has a lot of poll workers signed up to help on election day. Each one is trained on what to do in case of an emergency.
“For several years, we’ve always talked about emergency situations that could happen at the polling location. Not just threats of violence- but power outages, gas leaks, what to do- we’ve always incorporated that into our training for our poll workers,” said Price.
Washington County works closely with local law enforcement to make sure they know where all of the polling locations are on election day, in case an emergency call comes.
“They realize that it’s not just a church on a Tuesday or community center on a Tuesday, but it’s actually a polling location. There could be hundreds of voters at that location,” said Price.
In Benton County, deputies will be set up at various voting locations throughout election day. All poll workers are ready to make a call and equipped to respond in emergencies.
“We have safety procedures that they will follow, and we’ll get in contact with deputies to get the situation handled,” said Benton County director of communications, Melody Kwok.
There is one concern you should keep in mind on election day. Electioneering law does not allow for any attire that promotes candidates or issues that will be on the current ballot. If you are caught wearing a piece of clothing endorsing anything on the ballot, poll workers will ask you to take it off or cover it.
“You will still get to vote. There won’t be a reason we would deny anyone the right to vote, but it is a punishable offense,” said Price.
When it comes to how much time it could take you to vote on election day, Kwok said it shouldn’t take long. However, polling locations in more centralized areas of the county could take you up to 30 minutes.
“If you’re going to one of our locations in one of our bigger cities, like the Rogers Convention Center or New Life Christian Church, those might have bigger lines,” said Kwok.
Some of the early voting polling locations may be different from election day polling locations. Kwok encourages everyone to check with their county to see if voting locations have changed.