In the next moment an election judge moved toward me from my left and called to me, causing me to turn ninety degrees to my left to face him. I am fairly certain that it was the same judge who had insisted on my photo ID in February. Regardless, as I turned, the man continued walking up to me until he gave me a "Chest Bump" (like players or managers do to umpires in baseball games), and said "You either do what you're told to vote, or you get out of here NOW!"
I was beginning to feel like Alice, when she fell through the Looking Glass, but managed to ask, "And you going to evict me? Call the police?"
ASt that point, Leroy pick up the converstaion and said, "You leave right now!". I replied, "If you won't call your Election Board, I will." and pulled my cell phone from my pocket. I turned to my son and asked himn to take his cell phone and call "Election Protection" at the Missouri SoS's Office.
As we both dialed, Leroy shouted for us to leave the building immediately, and I replied, "Sorry. Can't do that. What you are asking is neither legal or fair. Let's settle this thing." And as my son and I were talking to our respective parties, Leroy also made a call... to the Eastern Jackson County Election Board.
As my son spoke to the SoS's office, I was asking for the GOP BoE head, Charlene Davis. Oddly enough, she was not available.
But Leroy did manage to get through to the Election Board, as Independence, Missouri, Police Officers entered the precinct doors. One of the last things that Leroy was heard to say to the Election Board was "Then we don't get the signatures??"
My son and I were grabbed by the arms and escorted outside. The two policemen who escorted us were soon joined by four others with two other squad cars. Surrounded, we were peppered by questions. Basically they were of the type, "Why are you bothering these people?"
The answer, as clear as we could make it was, "We aren't bothering them! We are simply trying to vote, and these people are breaking Missouri State Statutes, preventing us from voting."
The police responded, "Look, you are breaking their rules. If you don't get out of here, we are going to arrest you!"
The question I had in response was, "Their rules? What rules? Those are employees of the Election Board, they are under the mandate of the Election Board, and then the SoS. Aren't you more concerned about the breaking of state laws?" As it turns out, apparently they were not.
My son and I were given several chances to leave by the police. To go back home and just forget about voting. I will give the officers that much. They really did not want to arrest us. On the other hand, between the officers and the six election judges, none were willing to even ask what should be done. Even as my son had succeeded in getting hold of someone at the Election Board, who had authority (Brad lastnameunknown), the police officers refused to speak to the Election Board when "Brad" made that request.
My son was told to turn off his phone and get out of the parking lot, or he would be taken to jail along with me. I told him to get in the car, drive home, and be prepared for my phone calls.
One officer then turned to me and said, "This is your last chance. Leave and never come back here." I said, "You're kidding, surely. Never? And where do I vote in November?"
"Are you going?" he asked again. I asked, "You mean leave without even having an answer as to why I am not allowed to cast my ballot?"
His answer was nonverbal; but he leaned in close, and I knew he was waiting for an answer. "Uhhh... with all due respect, officer... I feel that if I did so, I would be betraying my own conscience, and setting a bad precedent for all those citizens who share my right to vote."
About two nano-seconds after finishing my sentence, an officer behind me grabbed my wrists, handcuffed me, pulled me by the arm and pushed me into the back seat of a caged police car.
After a ten minute ride to the Independence Police Station, I was put on the bench outside the lockup (after I indicated I would post a cash bond) and was released some two hours later. The maximum bond on a city civil offense is $500, mine turned out to be $300 (though it should be noted that one policeman recommended that, since there were six election judges, they should make six Disorderly Conduct charges, heave each election judge sign one complaint, and that would raise bond to a maximum of $3000).
Perhaps, fortunately for me, one of the officers finally realized that I was doing what I was doing, not to be a pain-in-the-ass or to garner publicity, but because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Oddly, when I was finally released, there were about a half dozen officers who walked out of the detectives room (where the report was being written) as I left the building. At first, it was a bit unnerving being watched as I left the station. Then I realized that the looks betrayed more of puzzlement, or incredulity, than of a "I'll get you next time. Watch your step, buddy!"
My son was waiting for me when I was released. He told me that Charlene Davis and her Democratic counterpart at the Eastern Jack Election Board had returned his call and suggested that both he and I come up to the Election Board after my release, and we did so.
Our initial reception by Charlene Davis was one of general hostility. Slowly, as a few questions and answers were exchanged, Charlene and her counterpart realized that there was not some insane, ranting tirade emanating either from my son or myself and some civility ensued. Yet at the same time, when Mrs. Davis was shown what we had presented as Voter ID, she acknowledged that, indeed, what we were presented was valid and should have been accepted. She even pulled out a single laminated sheet of ID requirements (quite like that of the SoS) and asked, "Didn't they have this on the tables out there?" And the answer was, "No, Ma'am. They did not!'
The final attempt by the Board to mollify my son and I was to offer us the chance to actually vote (it was about 3:30PM then). I asked, "At our precinct?"
"No," I was told, "I'll give you a ballot right here to cast."
"Why can't we vote at our precinct?" I asked. "You have acknowledged that we were correct, and should have been allowed to vote. Why can't we."
"Well," she said, "if you go back out there, you may be arrested again."
"Well those judges filed a complaint the first time. I'm can't guarantee it won't happen again."
Thinking for a second, I suggested, "Why don't you go out with us? Or send someone."
Well, that was as far as she would go. The offer to cast a ballot at the Board Office. And I told her I would not be willing to vote a provisional ballot but she replied that it would not be provisional. I suggested she give me a moment to consult, by phone, with the SoS's Office. I was told that I would have to leave the building to do so.
I did so, checked on the status of the complaint I had already filed with the SoS by phone, then decided (since I doubt any race would be decided by my vote)that I did not want to chance setting any precedent by voting at the Board after having misdeneanor charges filed against me by the Election Judges.
And, so finally, we reach the point of outlining what my "Electoral Transgressions" of today actually amount to. And, though the full police report will not be available until probably Friday, I do have the municipal ticket which was written out for me.
The ticket states that I, on 11PM of this date
"did knowingly cause a disturbance/disorderly conduct to wit: acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another, placing such person(s)in fear of safety by (and this is the part I find fascinating) refusing to show proper I. D. when voting".
So, if any DUers out there have ever served as an election judge or challenger at any precinct, and have found themselves frightened by a voter who attempted to use an official Election Board printed and mailed ID card, instead of coughing up a signature bearing form of ID (and in my case, it would have been, could only have been, my drivers license), I would like to hear from you.
Folks, I am a bad, slow typist. It has been a long day and I think I have covered the ground for you. This is long, but it seemed as if all this detail was necessary to cover all possible questions.
If you have any more thoughts, questions, let me know. But I must soon grab some sleep and get back on line when my mind works again.
In the meantime, it should be worthwhile to wonder just exactly how six experienced election judges would each suddenly come to believe thjat they could, or must, insist upon a signature ID, which would almost surely be affixed to a picture ID (and gee, if that is the case, why would a state need a Photo Voter ID law??
And is this Independence, Missouri mixup a portent of what we will see being done to Democratic voters this November?????
PS. One nice note.
After being sprung from durance vile, I was able to attend a Victory Party for Jay Nixon, soon to be the new MO Gov. As well as all Mo Dem Representatives, our SoS, our AG, and all Dem. western-Missouri legislators.
My, weren't they surprised to hear of such things happening!!
And our local public access station, KKFI, has already aired one interview about this, and there are three more programs scheduled within the week on other stations. And seven reporters currently working on the story, from 5 different local papers.
PPS. Perhaps I was rash in suggesting to the arresting officer, and to Charlene Davis, that their plan of action might not be in everyone's best interest.