The highest appointed elections officer in Henderson County has explored deputizing civilians to patrol the polls on Election Day. At an Aug. 16 public meeting, Bob Heltman, chair of the Henderson County Board of Elections, discussed the idea of a “posse comitatus,” in which civilians would be deputized and armed to serve the sheriff. He said he asked the sheriff whether such a posse could patrol the polls, but he has since discovered the idea is unfeasible. “‘I said ‘have you heard of a posse comitatus? What’s the story?”” he said. “Well, the net result of all that is there’s no time to even try to do it.” Heltman, who was appointed to the board five years ago by the Republican party, said he discussed the idea as part of the board’s safety plan to prevent terrorism, but he has abandoned it.
“It just sort of came to mind: ‘My God, we’re looking at an emergency plan. What about terrorism?’ That’s where the discussion started,” he said. “We just opened the floodgates for all possibilities, and the things that are not going to happen are armed guards or police … You’re not allowed to have armed people at your polling site because it might discourage voters.” Still, Heltman discussed the idea at the Aug. 16 public meeting.
Nancy Glowacki, a Hendersonville resident who attended on Aug. 16, said the board opened the meeting with remarks about security, terrorism and the posse. “The statements that were made from the board were foreboding,” she said. “We tried very hard to make comments that would calm it down. Change the focus. Sure make everyone aware, but don’t scare them to death. That’s just not right.”
Full Article: Elections chair discussed arming civilians at polls.