Determining what voter intimidation is can get complicated, experts say

Early voting wraps up at the end of the week. 

Keeping it safe and secure is a priority for Secretary of State John Scott. He spoke about that as part of this Sunday's Texas, The Issue Is. 

"There are so many eyes, so many ears watching our elections. We feel very confident this is the safest, most transparent election we will ever have conducted in the state," said Scott.

In Travis County, special voter protection patrols, organized by Sheriff Sally Hernandez, are being done. As of Wednesday, sheriff's deputies have responded to five calls to polling locations. They include: 

  • A burglar alarm
  • A medical emergency
  • A case of indecent exposure
  • A check welfare
  • And a complaint with no report filed

"Law enforcement patrols give voters the confidence of knowing that we're keeping an eye on the polling places. It's our duty and our mission to make sure the voting process is secure," said TCSO Spokesperson Kristin Dark.

Determining what voter intimidation is can get complicated, according to former U. S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

"But the simple way to explain it would be if somebody is threatening someone else or bribing someone else to vote or not vote a certain way. I think the history this kind of goes back at least on the federal law side to unions and employers saying, okay, you're a member of this union, you got to vote this way. And if you don't, we're going to either beat you up or do something bad to you. And an employer might do it, too. So we put in place federal laws that say you cannot threaten people to vote a certain way, and you can't be paying bribing people to vote in a certain way," said Sutton.

A recent incident involving a Lakeway couple seemed intimidating.

They spoke to FOX 7 Tuesday about an anonymous politically-charged letter they got for having a Beto sign in their yard.

"It’s an isolated incident on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s hate," the couple said. "A lot of anger. A lot of anger, and that’s disturbing."

The Lakeway Police Department is asking the Travis County Attorney's office to review the case.

"There is a gray area and there's a lot of interpretation here. I mean, some people maybe, you know, i was just joking around. You know, i thought it was just playful banter about giving jiving someone about their politics or even more than that, you know, complaining about it. But does that rise to the level of intimidation? And that's that is the question that has to be resolved," said Sutton.

Being offended, Sutton says is not being intimidated.

"Just because somebody says stuff that offends you is not that's not a crime."