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Is someone watching you vote?

caption: King County drop box.
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King County drop box.
Juan Pablo Chiquiza / KUOW

Austin Jenkins brings us the latest on the "Guard The Vote" movement, led by an unsanctioned group of citizens ostensibly watching for voter fraud at the ballot box.

It feels strange to say this when kids are out of school and a heat wave is about to blast the Pacific Northwest, but it is election season here in Washington.

The state’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 2. That’s the deadline to postmark your mail-in ballot, or drop it in a ballot drop box.

Ballot boxes are located in front of places like libraries and city halls. And election officials say those ballot drop boxes are safe and secure. But our country's democratic process is recovering from a close call, where a sitting president tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power after he lost an election.

Promoters of "the big lie" about the 2020 election, continue to push baseless conspiracies about widespread fraud in U.S. elections, and that is inspiring some people to take election security into their own hands.

Austin Jenkins, who covers state government for KUOW and the Northwest News Network, joined Soundside to talk about what's going on.

While there is no law preventing anyone from watching a ballot box, be it from a car or on the sidewalk nearby, there are laws preventing voter intimidation.

"There's clearly some concern that this sort of unsanctioned outside the fold effort to surveil these drop boxes could cross that line," Jenkins said. "U.S. Attorney for the Western District Nick Brown warns that they will investigate and prosecute any acts of voter intimidation."

As far as the signs that had been posted saying that the ballot boxes were under surveillance, those have all been removed, according to King County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson.

Those signs originally had QR codes directing people to the King County Republican Party's website. Party officials have disavowed the effort and wrote a cease-and-desist letter.

The party chair told Austin Jenkins, "that he supports and encourages the legal exercise of the ability to observe the process to maintain the integrity of our elections."

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