Having police come to your home wielding weapons and asking questions about your voter registration status just days before an election sends a clear signal. That signal wasn’t lost on residents of Hmong communities in rural northern California, who said police came to their doors doing just that earlier this month. They said authorities also set up a roadway checkpoint to target Hmong drivers, threatening to arrest and prosecute them if they voted illegally. Following those allegations of flagrant voter intimidation in the lead-up to Tuesday’s state primary, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, where just about 43,000 people reside, told TPM his deputies played only a “minor” role in a state-led gumshoe probe into potential voter registration fraud. Sheriff Jon Lopey (pictured right) said deputies accompanied investigators to provide security in an area he described as potentially dangerous and “inundated” with what he estimated to be 2,000 illegal marijuana grow sites.
But the accounts of voter intimidation were serious enough that investigators from the Secretary of State’s Office, joined by staffers from the state Attorney General’s Office, were dispatched on June 7 to monitor polling places across Siskiyou County. “What began as an investigation of alleged voter fraud quickly evolved into an investigation of potential voter intimidation,” a spokesman said in a statement emailed to TPM.
Ironically, the Secretary of State’s Office was being forced to look into acts of alleged voter intimidation performed in service of its very own probe.
While Lopey declined to identify the state agency involved in the initial voter fraud probe, telling TPM “they asked us to not even mention their name,” the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed its investigators were on the ground after “initial questions” were raised by the county registrar.