RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As the start of early voting draws near, a decision by the North Carolina State Board of Elections is raising the eyebrows of local law enforcement.
In a memo last week to local election boards, the NCSBE said “it is not appropriate or permissible for law enforcement to be stationed at a voting place.”
Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed, the executive director of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, said while the policy isn’t new, the way it was outlined in the memo was “concerning.”
In the memo, the NCSBE said “some voters find a law enforcement presence at the polls intimidating.”
The NCSBE advised local election boards that if law enforcement is needed for parking or traffic issues at a polling places “officers must be in plain clothes.”
The memo goes on to say law enforcement can “periodically drive by a voting site” if extra security is needed.
Officers are allowed wear their uniforms while voting.
However, if a local election board uses private security, those security guards can wear uniforms, but they can’t be armed nor stand inside the voting site.
According to the memo, the NCSBE encourages local election boards to meet with local police and sheriff offices and to call them if an incident occurs.
In a statement the NCACP asked members “to follow department policy since the NCBOE can not dictate police protocol.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest called the memo by the NCSBE “anti-police” in a statement.
“The State Board of Elections has no jurisdiction over police matters. They do not have the authority to mandate when, where or how uniformed police officers do their jobs. This memo is insulting to the men and women in uniform.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest
The NCGOP also issued a statement calling the memo “anti-police.”
“The NCSBE’s reckless directive, which bans law enforcement from enforcing the law in uniform, is simply an impractical, dangerous attempt to appease the radical left,” said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton.
The ban on uniformed officers at the polls was part of a NCSBE memo on this numbered memo making sure voters have a safe environment “free from intimidation when they go to the polls,” and minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19.