The Board of Elections Can’t Ban Law Enforcement from Polling Places, But They’re Trying Anyway


Senate Elections Chairs: “The State Board of Elections has no authority to direct police activity”

Raleigh, N.C. – There they go again.

The Gov. Cooper-controlled N.C. State Board of Elections issued another lawless “memorandum,” this time prohibiting police officers from polling locations because “some voters find a law enforcement presence intimidating.”

In a joint statement, the co-chairs of the Senate Elections Committee Sens. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Warren Daniel (R-Burke), and Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) said, “We know a thing or two about election law. Gov. Cooper’s Board of Elections is not a law enforcement agency and has no authority to direct police action. The Board must rescind yet another lawless memorandum that undermines election security.”

Gov. Roy Cooper, who is on the ballot, controls the Board of Elections. His handpicked executive director’s police ban is sweeping. Here are all the relevant law enforcement directives from Gov. Cooper’s Board of Elections executive director:

“It is not appropriate or permissible for law enforcement to be stationed at a voting place. In the event a county board must utilize law enforcement for parking and traffic issues at a voting site, officers must be in plain clothes. Law enforcement may periodically drive by a voting site in the event heightened security is needed. County boards of elections must be mindful that some voters find a law enforcement presence at the polls intimidating….If a county board uses private security, the security guards shall be unarmed and shall not be stationed inside the voting enclosure. They may wear uniforms.”

The unelected Board of Elections, which has no police authority and is controlled by a candidate for office, has instructed law enforcement agencies:

  • How often they can drive by a polling site on public roads (“periodically”);
  • That they’re prohibited from wearing police uniforms when enforcing the law on property that’s not owned or under the jurisdiction of the Board of Elections;
  • That they’re banned from positioning themselves “at a voting place,” which is undefined.

The Board may have very limited authority on rules within 50 feet of a polling building, but the Board has no authority over any activity that occurs outside of that 50 foot buffer zone. It appears that the Board somehow believes that a police presence is itself a form of voter intimidation, and therefore the Board claims authority to ban police officers from inside a polling site and even determine how often police may “drive by a voting site” during the course of election day, which is absurd.

The Board of Elections directive also attempts to determine police activity outside of the 50 foot buffer zone. The Board has absolutely no authority to do so, and needs to rescind its lawless memorandum that undermines election security.