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Preparing for Election Day Violence

It would be prudent to do some basic planning and coordination.

by Eric Holdeman / October 12, 2020

After months of the president saying "the election is rigged," the thought has permeated many people's minds that if the president loses the election, he was cheated out of winning. Then what will they do?

There are the "average citizens" who hold strong political opinions, which is normal. Yet today, we have many far right militias and other right wing goon squads who think they can provoke a race riot by inciting violence. My real concern are these groups. They may feel that if they are going to take action, "Now is the time to act!" 

Depending on your physical location, there may be nothing to do. Here in Washington state we are entirely vote by mail, so it would be much harder to try and disrupt the election by creating havoc at polling places--since we have none!

It would be wise for emergency managers to consult with your local law enforcement agencies to assess what their plans are. Checking in with local fire authorities would also be appropriate. Decide at what point would you activate your Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to facilitate coordination.

My perspective as a local emergency manager in a metropolitan area was, "You can only activate too late, never too early." Thus a "low-level" activation with just your emergency management staff might be something to consider. I've always found that when someone wants help, they want it now and not in a couple of hours when you can get up and running.

The other aspect of this election is that the decision point for who won might not come on election day, but extend into days or even weeks as vote-by-mail ballots are added to the count. Thus, your readiness and preparations should perhaps extend beyond election day itself.

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