Idaho Dems call on Feds to look into alleged voter intimidation

Dems allege voter intimidation in N. Idaho.

BONNER COUNTY - The Idaho Democratic Party is now calling on the U.S. Attorney to look into claims of voter intimidation in northern Idaho.

The Idaho Attorney General's office is reviewing these claims as well. The Democratic Party says they pulled an employee from campaign work in Bonner and Boundary counties earlier this month after the employee said he was stalked and harassed by supporters of Republican State Representative Heather Scott, who is running for re-election against Democratic opponent, Kate McAlister.

But the Dems say the intimidation didn't stop there: Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Bert Marley says there are reports of intimidation against voters who live in that area as well.

"This is wrong," Chairman Marley told KTVB. "Something needs to be done about this."

KTVB spoke with Marley, as well as Scott, about these allegations. Scott says these allegations have no basis, and she believes it's all just a distraction.

The Idaho Democratic Party says threatening behavior by Scott supporters is unacceptable, and it is interfering with the right to vote.

Chairman Marley says one of their employees in the Bonner County area was being stalked and harassed, approached multiple times by a group of men wearing Scott campaign hats.

The Idaho Democratic party decided to take the employee out of that community for his safety.

"This whole thing is a distraction to keep the voters distracted from the real issues," Rep. Scott tells KTVB in a phone interview.

Scott says there is no proof to support this story.

"Unless I see some evidence I will continue to believe that the entire story has been fabricated for a political agenda," she added.

The Democratic Party employee reported the incidents to the Bonner County Sheriff, who says they looked into it. Sheriff Daryl Wheeler says in a Facebook post that a deputy spoke with the employee and told him his report was being taken seriously, but that "a Democrat is not a protected class" under Idaho's malicious harassment code.

At the end of the Facebook post, Sheriff Wheeler says, "I found that my staff acted in a prompt and professional manner".

"It goes deeper than that," Marley said, "it's the idea that people that live there are being intimidated too. And that's a thing that really concerns me."

Marley says many other people have come forward with stories about being intimidated, for example, the report of an armed man harassing a 90-year-old woman in a parking lot for having McAlister's bumper sticker on her car.

Scott sent out a campaign email on October 10 asking her supporters to help find Republicans who are "Democrats in disguise". She says they are also "trying to stay ahead of the game and understand strategy and tactics of the opposition."

Scott says that's so she doesn't waste money on postage.

"All candidates update their files to save money on campaigning," Scott added.

KTVB asked if the request to supporters that says, "if you see Democrat signs go up in your neighborhood, please write down a house number and street name," was so she doesn't send them any campaign surveys or brochures.

"That's exactly why. We remove them from our mailing lists," Scott responded.

But Chairman Marley says that's overt intimidation.

"We're not going to allow this to continue. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure it's not happening anywhere in state of Idaho," Marley told KTVB.

Under federal and state law, voter intimidation is not allowed.

U.S. code says: "No person... shall intimidate, threaten, coerce... any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of that person to vote or vote as he may choose..." for any candidate for federal office.

Idaho Statute says that "every person who, by force, threats, menaces, bribery, or any corrupt means, either directly or indirectly attempts to influence any elector in giving his vote... is guilty of a misdemeanor."
 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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