Officials warn voter intimidation will not be tolerated at polls

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – State and local leaders believe Election Day in Wisconsin will run with few issues but stand ready to swiftly address any forms of voter intimidation or acts of violence.

“I am very confident that we will have a safe and secure voting process in Wisconsin and that things are going to go smoothly at the polls tomorrow,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a conference by phone.

Kaul said people have a right to free speech but it cannot interfere with someone else’s right to vote.

“Where the line gets crossed is when you go from exercising your own rights to threatening somebody else’s safety, interfering with somebody else’s right to exercise their own first amendment rights,” Kaul said. “What can’t happen is that they are intimidating or threatening or putting people in a state of duress if those other folks are trying to exercise their first amendment rights.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett echoed those sentiments and affirmed the city is prepared for any potential issues.

“We will have a lot of mechanisms in place,” Barrett said in a video conference. “We will not in any fashion tolerate intimidation, we are not allowing guns at the polling places. This is a day for our democracy. All the political rhetoric is over. Tomorrow is a day to vote.”

In addition to local and state law enforcement resources monitoring the issue, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is sending personnel to 44 cities and counties around the country to monitor any potential voter intimidation acts. The effort is part of a regular compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In addition to issues on Election Day, officials say they are also prepared to handle any potential unrest following the results of the election. Kaul said law enforcement will respect people’s right to protest, but violence will not be tolerated.

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