Labor Union Trains Volunteers To Look Out For 'Shenanigans' At The Polls

Oct 26, 2012

Unions are training volunteers to be vigilant at the polls.
Credit Fairfax County /Flickr

Reports surfaced this week that fraudulent voter intimidation letters have been circulating the state. The letters warn voters that they have 15 days to prove they are  citizens or they will be removed from the state's voter rolls.

This incident has prompted investigations from both state officials and federal officials.

While these sorts of  shenanigans are not uncommon during big elections, groups are already anticipating more of this when Floridians start voting at the polls tomorrow.

Arlene Holt Baker, the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO -- one of the country's biggest labor unions -- visited a volunteer training session in Miami this week. The AFL-CIO is training union members and other activists to look out for problems at the polls.

Holt Baker says the union is training people to "protect" votes and make sure there aren't any "voter suppression tactics" or "shenanigans"  during early voting or Election Day.

"We are training those Floridians who have agreed to be part of the 'My Right, My Vote' voter protection program to look out for some of the activities that will occur, quite frankly, even before November 6," she says.

Holt Baker says that long lines at polling locations will definitely be a problem. She says she is training volunteers to make sure voters aren't dissuaded from voting just because the lines are long.

"We have got to be on the lookout and citizens themselves have got to be able the minute they think there is something that they suspect is inaccurate to call -- certainly let the board of elections know -- but to call the 1-866-OUR-VOTE number," Holt Baker says.

"These are the kind of shenanigans that are starting to happen and it's not even Saturday, yet."

She says her group is particularly concerned this year because some Florida "communities of color" have already gotten a robocall saying they are able to vote by phone. In Florida, however, there is no such thing as voting by phone. 

"That can be very confusing for people," she says. "These are the kind of shenanigans that are starting to happen and it's not even Saturday, yet."

Early voting begins this Saturday in Florida. Holt Baker urges voters to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE with any concerns or problems while voting.