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Armed security guards create stir at early voting site in St. Petersburg

Armed security guards create stir at early voting site in St. Petersburg

by Jeff Patterson | News Channel 8  |  Published on October 23, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — When Trevor Mallory arrived at an early voting location across from City Hall in downtown St. Petersburg on Wednesday, he says he noticed a problem.

Mallory, the Democratic candidate running to become Pinellas County’s property appraiser, saw two uniformed security guards with weapons in holsters next to a tent for the Trump campaign outside the polling place.

“I mean, I’m 6-foot-5, 250 pounds but still, when you see someone toting a weapon that’s not in an official police or sheriff’s office uniform, it’s a little uncomfortable. It’s a little discomforting,” Mallory said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says it never should have happened.

“Voter intimidation is not going to happen in my city. It’s not going to happen in Pinellas County. We’re not going to tolerate it, we’re not going to put up with it,” he said.

According to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus, the security guards told Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies they had been hired by the Trump campaign.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign says the security guards were not hired by them.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the two security guards did nothing wrong and violated no laws.

“If all they are doing is standing there minding their own business, then that does not violate the law and there is nothing improper and there is nothing wrong and there is nothing we are going to do about it because there is nothing we can or should do about it,” Gualtieri said.

Kriseman disagrees.

“I can’t say I agree with him on that,” the mayor said. “There is zero reason for anyone to be armed, openly armed, in front of a polling place.”

Mallory says he hopes the incident will encourage more people to vote and not the other way around.

“It makes me want to continue to tell people – your vote matters. If your vote didn’t matter, these tactics wouldn’t be happening,” said Mallory.

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