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Washtenaw County law enforcement officia...

Washtenaw County law enforcement officia... image
Parent Issue
Day
30
Month
October
Year
1968
Copyright
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Washtenaw County law enforcement officials are I prepared to deal with expected efforts by radical groups I to disrupt Tuesday's voting, Prosecuting Attorney WilI liam F. Delhey said today. Following a conference of command officers of all campus, local, state and federal pólice agencies this morning, Delhey announced that county law ment is prepared to assure all registered voters that their right to vote in a peaceful, orderly manner will be protected. Delhey said his office "intends to treat all disruptions at the polls and all interference with voters, if such occur, as felonies and will prosecute each case to the fullest extent of the law." The penalty for such interference could be five years in prison or $1,000 fine or both, he said. Types of actions which have been discussed and which would be in the felony class include: - Any attempt to influence anyone's vote or to deter him from voting, - Any person who exceeds the two minute limit in the polling booth who refuses to leave, unless election officials grant him an extensión of time for some reason, - Filling out an application when the person is not registered, and - Picketing the polls if it deters people from voting. Delhey said city, village and state pólice officers will be deployed to various polling places around the clock and all 82 precincts will have protectïon in the presence of officers at least half of the time. He said that "obviously" more officers will be assigned to certain places but declined to name the locations where trouble is expected. Security for the polling places, voting machines and the ballots "from this moment (about 11:30 a.m. today) until the canvass of votes is completed" has been p 1 a n n e d and precautionary measures put into effect, the prosecuting attorney noted. Many of the polling places are schools and the schools are normally in session on election day. Paper ballots are available if needed to replace any machines in case they are disabled, he said. Only nine of the county's 82 precincts normally use paper ballots. ___a The prosecutor declined to be called "apprehensive." HpJsaid that the reason for today's Meeting was to become "prep-red" to deal with whatever miglit develop. Intelligence available to all the pólice agencies has indicated that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti polls will be the object of terror and sabotage and, to the contrary, that there will be no action at the polls, Delhey said. He urged all registered voters to use their franchise and not to be discouraged by the law enforcement precautions, saying that he was particularly j cerned that elderly persons would be frightened away from voting. The state's chief election official, Secretary of State James ' M. Hare, in his first press conference in five years, called the threats to the election "a rí'M emergency." He said Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are expected n be the focus of a violent n student campaign to scare pci - ple from the polls. Most of the trouble is btüig planned by chapters of the Students for a Democratie Society (SDS) in Ann Arbor, but also in other campus centers including East Lansing, Detroit, Kalamazoo and others, Hare said. Delhey referred to a report in yesterday's Wall Street Journal which quoted an SDS national official as saying almost total disruption was expected in Ann Arbor. Hare said the methods of disrupting polling places may include bombings, molotov cocktails, mass picketing, spraying paint on voting machines, and harassing telephone calis to the polling places. The secretary of state also said that state authorities "have reason to believe" that SDS members from Detroit and perhaps other states will be called into Washtenaw C o u n t y and perhaps other campus towns to help in the disruptions. Hare said authorities are quite certain of the plans because SDS "has been very open in discussing what they plan to do" and he said pólice have infiltrated a number of the meetings. Pólice leaves havebeencarTn celed in all of the towns where s e r i o u s trouble is expected, Hare said he understood. In Washtenaw County, Delhey said auxiliary sheriff's men would be called and that this. has been done in the past on election day. The sheriff's department will handle any duties for the city and state pólice if they are all occupied with election duties. Because the sheriff is on the ballot, his department can not be involved in the actual policing of the polls. Hare noted that there are 5,300 polling places in Michigan and said if trouble actually occurs at only a dozen or so, it would be "infinitesimally small" compared with the whole state. But, Hare added, SDS and other groups which may be involved hope that their tactics in just a few places may scare away many others elsewhere from voting. The plans for the Michigan disruptions are known to be part of a nationwide strike, including other areas such as New York City and San Francisco, Hare said. "The overall aims of these people nationally," Hare said, "is to discredit and disrupt democratie institutions everywhere. When the Vietnam War is over, they'll find other causes for continuing their attacks . . ." Hare said. He predicted if the violent tactics were as successful as the disrupters hope, it might make a difference of as much as 100,000 votes throughout the , state. About 3.9 million Michigan residents are eligible to vote, with some 3.4 to 3.5 million actually expected to cast their ballots. Hare said he was particularly concerned about the possible use of "token bombings" in Ann Arbor and elsewhere, either by actually setting off "a bomb or I two" the night before to frighten voters or calis during the day to say a bomb is set to go off in a polling place. He stated, as did Delhey, that polling places and voting machines are being guarded. U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark also moved to make preparations in case election disruption threats materialize although he said he expects "practically no disruption of voting.'' said thrft U.S. District Attorneys' office will be open throughout the oting period to receive compja Jits and that several thousasds of Federal Bureau of Invc stigation agents will be standií!? by to act on every complau't "within an hour." Interference vith voting is a federal crime as well as a state crime, carrying a possibile federal penalty of one year in prison or $1,000 fine or Jjoth, Tf hndilv injury is involved the penalty rises to a possible 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine, and life imprisonment could be imposed f death resulted. The federal voting rights law was tightened by Congress last spring in the 1968 C-ivil Rights Act to prevent any ;nterference with voting. Picketing of University classroom buildings and a possible march on U-M Ptoifdent Robben W. Fleming's )Sme in connection with the eirtion protest "strike" next Moi&? and Tuesday were among: jj'sposals presented at a strikneeting last night on campus Some 150 stuoT'tts attending the meeting calleé by the camp u s chapter of Students f o r Society (SDS), sponsors of the protest, voted to picket U-M classroom buildings Monday morning to persuade other students to boycott classes. The group, however, failed to ratify a proposal for the march on t h e President's h o, m e in which unspecified student demands on the University would be presented. But the march is still reported to be under consideration. In the meantime, SDS has scheduled a press conference for later today, at which news media representatives will receive an explanation for the nationwide strike on university campuses and be told of plans for protest demonstrations in Ann Arbor during the two-day period. ___