NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Fears of voter intimidation and violence have never surrounded an Election Day more than the one coming Tuesday – it's why faith leaders from across the country plan to station at polling sites, including at least a dozen in North Texas.
There will be voters coming and going, there will be campaign workers making last minute pitches.
But for the first time outside some polling sites, there will also be people like Rev. Valencia Edner.
"I'm going to be there as a ministry of presence," said Edner, with Carter Metropolitan CME Church in Fort Worth.
The Fort Worth minister will be one of nearly 100 spiritual leaders stationed outside voting centers across Texas, working as polling chaplains.
Faiths United to Save Democracy wants to create a comforting atmosphere for voters who may feel intimidated by aggressive poll workers or just the current political climate.
"We find ourselves in a political season that is toxic, it's poisonous," said Dr. Frederick Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church. He is overseeing the presence of polling chaplains in Texas.
"I want to emphasize a non-partisan moral presence, because we want everyone to feel that the voting booth is the safest place where you can find yourself tomorrow no one should feel intimidated," Haynes said.
That's what some voters in Arizona recently felt when armed vigilantes illegally stood watch around ballot drop boxes and photographed voters.
The volunteer chaplains hope to descalate any conflicts or tension that might arise in North Texas.
"Because there will be those of us there who will be advocating for them to have the right to do what too many people died to make sure that they could," Edner said.
At last check, DFW will have at least 12 polling chaplains working on Tuesday.
They will be assigned to polling sites with a high number of minority voters who organizers believe are the most vulnerable to intimidation and threats.
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