Here's how Santa Clara County's working to prevent voter intimidation at polls

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With talks about voter suppression and intimidation in other parts of the country, Santa Clara County leaders say they're doing everything they can to ensure a secure experience at the polls.

"We're committed to making this election safe so that your vote counts and that every vote is counted, and that is going to happen," said Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro. "The good news about this election in our county is we haven't had any reports of voter intimidation and we don't expect that to happen."

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With many people planning to vote in-person in the coming days, the district attorney's office is working with both local and federal law enforcement to ease any fears about voter suppression which has been reported in other states.

Gibbons-Shapiro added: "You're not allowed to show up in firearms, or in uniform, to try to intimidate voters, that's just not allowed in California."

Electioneering is also not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place or vote center. Donna Crane, SJSU political science instructor, recently returned from a week-long trip to Nevada in which she served as a poll worker during early voting in that state and said it was a relatively smooth process.

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"You're not supposed to be shouting slogans at people, or trying to persuade people of how they should vote within that range," said Crane. "You're not supposed to be intimating them, of course, in any way, or blocking them or hindering them or influencing them in any way."

However, if anyone gives you a hard time while voting, officials say to immediately report it to the polling staff, who are trained to help de-escalate the situation. They also have a direct line to the county registrar's office.

"Be very alert and attentive to anything that's happening around them during the process of standing in line to vote, or actually voting," said San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP President Rev. Jethroe Moore. "If you see something, say something."

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For voters who want to reduce the chances of hitting a line on Election Day, the county will open its nearly 100 vote centers starting on Halloween. Shannon Bushey, Registrar of Voters, is encouraging everyone to exercise their right to vote.

"Maybe they need language assistance, or they'd like to use the accessible touch screen voting machines, or they need a replacement ballot, they can do any of these at our full-functioning vote centers that offer more services than the polling places did in the past," said Bushey, who has overseen major infrastructure improvements at the registrar's office in recent years.

County officials say up to 90-percent of registered voters could end up participating in this year's election. As of Thursday night, more than 511,000 ballots had already been received by the county, which is twice the amount compared to the same time back in 2016.

Get the latest stories and videos about the 2020 election here.

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