With the midterm elections less than a week away, the tension in the air is undeniable. Many are expecting a red wave and promise an election victory for the GOP. Others (such as myself) brace for impact. After the elections of 2020 and 2022 primaries, it is difficult to be positive about an election. Especially when you follow closely what the SEC and mainstream media has been up to the past few months.
Weaponized Poll Worker Training
After the 2020 election, South Carolinians watched the 2022 primaries very closely. There were numerous documented accounts of votes being switched by the Ballot Marking Devices, improper ballots being counted, and ballot machines improperly secured. (Note: this is a very small list of the violations that occurred. If I were to list those, we would be here for a very long time.) For example, some machines across South Carolina did not have the mandatory security seal or the seal was already voided, showing obvious tampering and possible ballot access. All of these (and other) election violations were documented via photos and sworn testimony by concerned citizens that were reported to the SEC, police, and GOP. It seems that these findings caused some grief for the SEC.
The SEC has implemented a new policy banning cell phones and cameras in the polling location: “Voters, poll watchers, and observers should not take pictures of voting equipment, including but not limited to, the seals on the machines. Cameras, cell phones, and other digital photography and electronic recording devices are not allowed in the voting area.” (Page 25 and 31 of the Poll Manager Handbook) This was added in September of 2022 following the June primary. (Don’t miss page 5 for all the juicy details…)
So, anyone who is voting absentee can take as many photos of their ballot as they wish but if you choose to vote in-person, you are not allowed to make any documentation of your ballot.
Poll workers across South Carolina are being instructed that this is a “new law” that must be followed. However, no legislation has passed through the State Legislature or signed by the Governor. It is simply a new additional ‘policy’ in the SEC’s poll manager handbook.
Palmetto State Watch has received multiple reports across the state from poll workers who underwent poll training in their own county. Poll workers in Beaufort County were trained to be on the lookout for anyone that raises a question about the election system/process. According to the Beaufort County Elections, there is a group of ‘election integrity people’ going around intimidating poll workers, ripping off seals, and trying to break into election machines. One poll worker was singled out for her bravery in the 2022 primary when she held her ground against a voter ‘bullying’ her about the lack of integrity in the election system. During the training, the Beaufort BOE encouraged the poll workers to call the police on any voter who ‘caused problems.’
Poll Watchers Isolated
Over the past few months, SEC Executive Director Howard Knapp has been voicing his concern regarding poll watchers, how they cause problems, and make the poll workers feel intimidated. Knapp has notified sheriff offices around the state that there might be issues that arise. Poll workers around the state who have contacted the SEC have noticed that if any problem occurs, the SEC blames the poll watchers. It would appear this attitude is being passed down from the state level to the county and local level. In fact, reports are coming in from across the state that several individuals who are poll watchers have been blacklisted from ever becoming a poll manager or poll clerk. At one county election training for poll managers, very negative comments were made about poll watchers. One poll manager stated: “I know my job and what I’m doing, I don’t know why they feel the need to watch me.”
It is important to note that the previous version of the Poll Manager Handbook was published in April of 2022. The September version contained nine new pages and an appendix. In the April edition, the handbook contained less than one page of rules for poll watchers. After the September 2022 edition was updated, it contained more than three pages. Let’s take a look at some of those new rules:
According to the updated handbook, poll watchers are not allowed to speak to anyone other than the clerk or a designated poll manager (Poll Manager Handbook, Page 9). If a poll watcher has a question, they have to go to the poll clerk or the designated poll manager, who is not always in the area. During early voting, one county’s election director just happens to be the ‘acting’ poll clerk. This election director/acting poll clerk is not always around so poll watchers are left unable to perform their civic duty.
In the handbook, there is real voter information (full name, address, birthdate, registration number, etc.) from Aiken County voter registration list (Appendix 5) and Horry County voter registration list (Appendix 7.) This personal information on the physical voter registration list is the same information that is on the electronic poll book which poll watchers are not allowed to view due to “confidential voter information” (Page 9). On Page 1 of the handbook, it states that these lists “are public records.” So, the SEC can print and distribute online copies of real information straight from the voter registration list and it is considered public record. However, poll watchers are not allowed to view electronic voter registration lists due to the same voter registration information being too “confidential” (Page 9). I love a good double standard.
On the other hand, the GOP has been recruiting poll watchers since the primaries to ‘ensure’ integrity at the ballot box. That’s interesting, especially since GOP Chairman Drew McKissick promised our elections are ‘completely secure’ that ‘won’t have any problems,’ especially after the May ‘election integrity’ bill, leading up to the primaries.
SEC’s October 19th, 2022 Meeting
The SEC’s last public meeting may not have lasted more than 20 minutes, but there was a lot crammed into a rushed meeting before moving into executive session. Here is a recap:
- SC attorneys have been offered 6 hours continued education credits if they work as poll managers per the State Supreme Court decision. If the county insist on paying them, the money must go to the SC Bar Association. Per SEC, this is very valuable because it does cost attorneys money to attend training in order to acquire their continuing education hours.
- First speaker during the meeting was Trump appointee/Federal Commissioner Donald Palmer. Palmer stated that the federal level will support the SEC in every way and have “all the confidence in the world in the 2022 election.” According to Palmer, the EAC is a clearinghouse for best practices of how the states deal with issues nationally.
- The SEC wants to repeal existing regulations that are antiquated or obsolete and revise all of the regulations at some point. Executive Director Howard Knapp received permission from commissioners to pursue repealing. The window for public comment is 10/28-11/7, then to commissioners and on to General Assembly. Mr. Knapp will draft de-regulations. Palmetto State Watch has been monitoring the SEC’s website since 10/28/22 and has seen zero reference to this or opportunity for public comment for this issue as of 11/3/22.
- 100 foreign observers are coming to observe the United State’s 2022 midterm election by the invitation of the federal government. Two foreign observers are each assigned to a state. South Carolina’s two assigned foreign observers are from Germany and Czech Republic. The SEC plans to ‘wine and dine’ them to get a favorable report and allow them to come into polls, SEC, and elections offices. All will be federally funded. They are from OSCE (European group – Security of Elections). They will reportedly draw up a report and give it back to the federal government. The SEC said they would “feed them well.”
- Executive Director Howard Knapp met with Homeland Security, FBI, and other agencies. They are concerned about Russia, Iran, China, and threat of Domestic Misinformation. They are also very concerned about nationwide reports of poll watchers harassing poll workers and have notified all sheriffs about this issue as well. They are anticipating J6-style ‘riots’ after the midterms.
Wait…They are expecting domestic misinformation and J6-style riots?
This is interesting, especially when you pair it with the influx of mainstream media reports of election problems from the past few weeks building up to the November 8th election. For the past two years, the mainstream media has been insistent upon the security of our elections. Now, all of a sudden, there are issues?
I encourage you to think carefully over what may unfold within the next several days. Why is the SEC insulating themselves from public scrutiny at the voting locations? Why is the SEC preparing for conservative ‘riots’? Why did legacy media’s narrative flip so quickly?
A lot to think about.