RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – New video shows a voter getting combative after being asked to remove a mask with President Trump’s name on it. And what he’s accused of saying to poll workers is shocking.
It happened on October 22 at the polling place at the Sandoval County Administration building. A county employee who witnessed the incident called security on the voter.
“A little scared for myself because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” the employee, who wants to remain anonymous, said. “He could’ve just easily pulled off his mask and say ‘ok.’ And put another mask without all of this happening. Like, there was no need for any of that at all.”
According to the employee, a man walked in with a black mask with Trump written on it in white. She said the poll workers asked him to turn his mask inside-out or to take it off and have them provide one for him. This is when she said he started swearing repeatedly using the ‘f-word.’
The employee said he called the Black poll worker the ‘n-word’ and told him to ‘fetch’ a mask for him. She said he called her the ‘b-word.’ She was scared things would turn physical and calls the entire incident ‘concerning.’
“It is really a big concern. Because now I’m concerned for my own safety, and my children’s safety. Because I don’t know if this person is going to come back and retaliate,” she said.
The man did not end up voting at that location then and the employee said he swore at them on the way out. The security video of the incident shows him making gestures at the poll workers while walking out of the building. County Treasurer, Laura Montoya, said she was made aware of the situation soon after and called it ‘disappointing,’
“We need to change the way we treat one another. And it also shows that this is not who we as New Mexicans are in any type of fashion or form. And we need to be aware of it so that we can correct the behavior and hold people accountable for negative sexist and racist slurs.”
County officials said the poll workers were not targeting any specific candidate and were right to ask the man to remove this Trump mask as it is a form of electioneering.
“Election laws are not bipartisan,” Montoya said.
Under state law, campaigning or wearing items with campaign jargon on them within 100 feet of a polling place is banned.
“When it comes to electioneering, that’s wearing anything, not just a mask. It’s wearing a pin. It can be as small as the pin I’ve got on here. If it said campaign, or had a cause, or a candidate, as part of that, then I wouldn’t be able to wear that in a polling place,” Wayne Johnson, Sandoval County Manager, said.
Without seeing the report filed to the Sheriff’s Office, he couldn’t speak to the allegations of racial slurs used against poll workers but did say the poll workers handled the situation well. He said the polling place usually has a security officer on site but he was out for a moment when this incident happened. Now, the county is making sure there is a security officer at the polling place at all times.
In response to the incident, a spokesperson with the Secretary Of State’s office sent the following statement:
In terms of that Sandoval County incident or any similar ones going forward, I’d just say that voters should be aware that they cannot wear paraphernalia related to any candidate or question on the ballot because it constitutes “electioneering” under New Mexico law, and so will be asked to remove or cover-up such things if they are worn within 100ft of a polling place.
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