Voters in Nassau and Suffolk can expect a beefed-up police presence where they cast their ballots Tuesday — an effort to allay voter-intimidation fears after warnings by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of a rigged election and his call for supporters to monitor polling places.
Suffolk police Commissioner Timothy Sini said he plans to dispatch hundreds of officers to patrol the county’s polling sites.
“Certainly there is a very heated debate, so from a law enforcement perspective, when you have that sort of heat of passion, we want to make sure we are on our toes,” Sini said Monday at a news conference. “There is a lot of emotion in this election, so we want to make sure we have an enhanced presence so that everyone feels safe.”
In Nassau County, police officials said they are intensifying patrols at voting locations, as well as at public gatherings, houses of worship and near other critical areas.
Additional Election Day security in both counties comes after Trump’s claims in recent months that the election process in the United States is hopelessly broken and the only way he could lose to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, is because the polls are rigged.
No evidence of widespread voter fraud exists nationwide, however. In one study, a Loyola Law School professor found 31 instances involving allegations of voter impersonation out of 1 billion votes cast in U.S. elections between 2000 and 2014.
Sini said there is no specific credible threat to Suffolk County and he’s confident there likely won’t be issues, but there will be both uniformed officers and plainclothes cops dispatched to the 338 polling places patrolled by Suffolk officers. Sini urged residents who encounter any intimidation or other violence at polling places to call 911.
“We want people to feel safe voting tomorrow,” Sini said. “It’s very important that people feel safe when exercising their constitutional right to vote and the Suffolk County Police Department is doing everything to ensure their safety. Again, there’s nothing to be concerned about with respect to tomorrow, but we’ll be out there in force to reassure people of their safety.”
Nassau police officers said their security plans include monitoring social media and working with federal, state and other local authorities, according to a department news release.
Those seeing something suspicious or potential threats in Nassau should dial 911. Any tips also can be shared by calling Nassau Crime Stoppers at 800-244-8477.