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Civil unrest unlikely following election

Law enforcement anticipates normal conditions

T-R file photo — Law enforcement in Marshalltown and Marshall County are not expecting violent behaviors among residents following the Tuesday election. People, including the early voters at the Old Fire Station earlier in October, have been respectful of the differing opinions.

The 2020 election cycle has been one of the most divisive in recent history leading some across the country to be concerned with what will happen when it is over.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said he and his department are not concerned there will be a rash of incidents following the presidential election.

“I’ve probably heard and read the same social media rumors that other people have been made aware of,” Tupper said. “I’ve not come across anything I’m concerned about at this point. I’ve not come across any verifiable information that there’s going to be unsafe conditions.”

Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman is also not concerned about any civil unrest following the Tuesday election, even though he has seen the polarization spread in the community.

“I am not aware of any information of a potential disturbance,” Hoffman said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — Ahead of the presidential election, workers with Baguer Construction LLC board up a Walgreens, Friday, in Washington. The site manager said they had been hired to put protective coverings on several Walgreens throughout the city.

The sheriff said Marshall County has been lucky during this time to have community members who are respectful, no matter the opinion.

“Regardless if it’s been a rally or a protest, it has been a benefit to have people who are understanding,” Hoffman said. “They want the best for their community, regardless of the diversity of thought or belief. They have expressed it without violence. I have found this community tends to be very respectful.”

Tupper said if members of the public hear of any incidents they should make the department aware as they would in other situations.

As for the department’s routine on Election Day, it will be business as usual according to Tupper.

“Certainly we’ll monitor the situation as it evolves,” he said. “We have no reason to believe anybody should be fearful or concerned about this election being any different from any other election in terms of safety.”

If there does happen to be civil unrest following the election, Hoffman is confident in the ability of law enforcement to provide an adequate response.

“We have the resources available here in central Iowa,” he said.

After the polls close on Tuesday, Marshall County Sheriff deputies will accompany ballots transported from locations across the county to the auditor’s office in Marshalltown. Law enforcement will also be present at the auditor’s office for security reasons, Hoffman said.

Having that presence on Election Day is not new for Marshall County, he said.

“It may not be normal across the state, but we have a long history of accompanying ballots,” Hoffman said.

The deputies accompanying the ballots have to declare their political affiliations to ensure different parties are represented. Hoffman said a civilian will also be present in the transportation.

Iowa’s election misconduct law states that someone who intimidates, threatens or coerces a person from voting is committing a crime and can be prosecuted. It is also against the law to bribe someone to influence their vote. Election misconduct is a felony.

Across the country, entities are preparing for potential problems relating to the election. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said on Thursday he would deploy 400 National Guard soldiers to help with polls. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday said he would not hesitate to deploy National Guard troops in the event of civil unrest.

In Chicago and Washington, D.C., some businesses have been boarding up windows in case of riots.

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com.

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