May 3, 2012 - Poll observers to be trained Saturday
Paper: Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
Title: Poll observers to be trained Saturday
Date: May 3, 2012
Author: Kristina Hernandez, Staff Writer
REDLANDS - The first of two workshops on how to become an Election Day poll observer during the June primary will be held Saturday at a private residence in the city.
Dawn Verkaik, a volunteer coordinator with the California Election Integrity Project, will lead both events.
An Election Day poll observer will be assigned to a polling station and asked to overlook the voting process to ensure election laws are followed.
Volunteers may work all day or in shifts with a friend or spouse, said Verkaik.
Created in 2010, the California Election Integrity Project is a non-partisan program created after several people volunteered in November elections of that year and experienced the election process first-hand.
What the volunteers discovered is there are laws and procedures in place that open the doors to potential voter fraud, said the group's website.
Election Day poll observers will work to combat that, said Verkaik.
Verkaik, a Redlands resident, learned of the project when a representative from the organization attended a meeting of the Redlands Tea Party Patriots.
Verkaik volunteered to help the organization recruit and train people who wish to learn about the voting process in their own communities, thus becoming a coordinator for the San Bernardino County area, she said.
Verkaik said she thought the program was interesting and hopes that others will, too.
"I think a lot of people sometimes think 'Why should I bother to vote?' I'm hoping to help those people get back to the integrity about the election process because it is our right to vote and it should count," she said. "The (project) is an important organization to be a part of."
The California Election Integrity Project focuses on three parts: the first, encouraging state residents to become a poll worker; the second, become a poll observer; and third, knowing the voting rules.
"We as citizens should be a part of (the election process)," Verkaik said, adding that the registar of voters is implementing new changes for the upcoming election which she called "impressive."
"We are encouraging people to become a poll observer and teaching them what to look for, what's legal, the proper proceedures and guidelines," she said.
For example, if there's an issue at a polling station, an Election Day poll observer is not allowed to disrupt voters or poll workers.
Instead, they are asked to leave their station, go outside and make a phone call to the registar of voters 100 feet from the polling station.
"There's a lot of laws. If you look at the election book, it's huge. It looks a lot like the (Los Angeles) phone book," Verkaik said, adding that these workshops will address all those rules.
John Berry, a spokesman for the Tea Party Patriots, said he was eager to attend the May 15 workshop and has plans to work the polls.
He said would be "thrilled" to do his part to fight election fraud.
"We cannot preserve our democracy if one persion gets to vote twice, which is why the EIP is so important. If we don't preserve one person equals one vote, then we will collapse as a republic," he said. "That's why I'm getting involved."
Saturday's workshop will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m., while the May 15th event will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Applications and more information - including venue location - can be found by sending an email to Verkaik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the EIP itself, visit www.electionintegrityproject.com
Record Number: 20543871
(c) 2012 Redlands Daily Facts. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.