There are concerns about voter intimidation on Election Day in Benton Harbor, and city commissioners will be asked next week to help. Members of the local SHARP Foundation say they were told by the ACLU during a recent call that there’s been social media chatter about the Proud Boys showing up to Benton Harbor High School, a polling location, next Tuesday. Commissioner Ron Singleton tells WSJM News this means a police presence could be needed, which he has discussed with SHARP.
“To address the perceived threat of a group coming in to intimidate voters, we definitely want to make the police department aware and have them on alert,” Singleton said. “Another thing that was brought up was that some people fear they might get arrested by going to the polls to vote because some of them might have minor warrants.”
That’s why Singleton is going to propose making Election Day a Day of Grace, or an amnesty day, for those with non-violent warrants at next week’s Benton Harbor City Commission meeting. It’s been done before, as recently as 2016.
“As a matter of fact, it was the Berrien County Courthouse, probably in conjunction with the sheriff’s department and local agencies, had an amnesty. I think it went on for about a week. Folks were allowed to come in on their own and address their situation without the fear of being arrested.”
Singleton says he hopes the rumor about trouble on Election Day isn’t true because given the climate in the country right now, he fears the slightest agitation could spark off something bigger. He tells us he’s seen voter intimidation before, but nothing like this year.