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Brevard supervisor of elections deploys guards for security at vote-by-mail ballot boxes

Guards will be unarmed

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County’s supervisor of elections on Monday deployed security personnel to guard vote-by-mail dropoff boxes outside her four offices around the clock, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Scott said she took the action after hearing of an incident Sunday of the contents of a ballot box being set on fire in Boston, a week after a similar incident in Baldwin Park, California.

Scott said the Florida Division of Elections last week had suggested — but not required — that such dropoff ballot boxes be guarded.

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Scott said the security personnel will be posted 24 hours a day at the supervisor of elections offices in Melbourne, Palm Bay, Titusville and Viera, where there are boxes into which voters can drop their vote-by-mail ballots, rather than send them by mail.

There also are video surveillance cameras at those sites.

There also are vote-by-mail dropoff boxes at the 10 in-person voting sites throughout the county. But Scott said, under state election law, the boxes are at those 10 sites only during the in-person early voting hours. Those boxes are watched during voting hours by supervisor of elections poll workers, so Scott said there will be no need for security guards at those sites.

Scott said the security guards at the four supervisor of elections offices were armed on Monday, but that was not her intention. Starting Tuesday, they will be unarmed, Scott said, because she does not want there to be any hint of voter intimidation.

Scott said the dropoff boxes have been a popular way for voters to cast their ballots, as an alternative to sending them through the U.S. Postal Service. She said more than one-third of the 120,732 vote-by-mail ballots cast through Monday have been through the dropoff boxes.

The dropoff boxes initially were put outside the four supervisor of elections offices after the start of the coronavirus pandemic for voters and candidates to drop off various elections-related documents, such as voter registration applications, request forms for vote-by-mail ballots and candidate petition forms to qualify for a spot on the ballot. The boxes later also were used for voters to have an around-the-clock option for dropping off their completed vote-by-mail ballots.

Scott said the county arranged for the security personnel through a security company it deals with.

She said the county plans to pay for the added security through money it received from a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant.

Law enforcement prepares

Meanwhile, officials of local law enforcement agencies said their agencies are preparing for any potential issues at polling places on Nov. 3, Election Day.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tod Goodyear said the agency will act only as backup, in case supervisor of elections special deputies need help.

“We will respond to any of the polling locations in our jurisdiction if these special deputies need additional assistance should a problem arise,” Goodyear said.

Rockledge Police Department Deputy Chief Donna Seyferth said her department “will be at full staff that day, monitoring from a distance and ready to respond if needed.”

Melbourne Police Department Cmdr. Marc Claycomb said his department is “monitoring the situation as we approach Election Day. We are ensuring that our personnel know where the polling places are located and what the hours of operation are. At this time, we are not providing additional staffing — nor have we been asked to. We will not be assigning personnel to locations. However, we will continue to monitor the situation.”