Throughout the 2016 campaign season we have seen occasional episodes of violencebetween political opponents, often attributed to supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, though now revealed to have been provoked by Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
It would seem that the violence has carried over into Election Day, at least at one polling place in Jupiter, Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Jupiter police were investigating a physical altercation that took place between Clinton voter Tom Garrecht and Trump supporter Donna Tatlici, who was handing out pro-Trump literature outside the polling place.
The confrontation began when Tatlici, who had been handing out the flyers during early voting for several days, approached Garrecht and offered him the sheet listing suggestions on down-ballot options for Trump supporters.
Garrecht refused the flyer and angrily declared, “I don’t need anyone to tell me who to vote for.”
Tatlici reportedly replied, “I’m not here to do that. I’m just here to give you the information.”
That seemed to be the end of the incident, as the man proceeded to go inside the Jupiter Community Center to cast his vote, but when he emerged he came right at Tatlici and began angrily yelling and cursing in her face.
Tatlici warned Garrecht that she had pepper spray and would use it on him if necessary, but he would not be dissuaded from his in-your-face rant at her, so she sprayed him, to which he responded by punching her and knocking her to the ground.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I couldn’t believe someone would actually hit me. I was really upset.”
Suffering a scrape on her arm but no other visible injuries, Tatlici stated that she intended to press charges against the man for assaulting her.
“He was up in her face like he was picking a fight,” explained Mark Smith, a lawyer who witnessed the attack while handing our flyers for a local candidate, adding that Garrecht seemed to come out after voting “with a huge chip on his shoulder.”
For his part, Garrecht admitted that he probably shouldn’t have done what he did, but attempted to excuse his behavior by accusing Trump supporters of harassing and intimidating other voters at the location, saying, “There are eight of them standing there. You’ve got to walk past them.”
As for Tatlici, she was well outside the 100-foot boundary set by law to separate polling places from any sort of “electioneering” activities.
Hopefully this was merely an isolated incident and not part of a trend of violent outbursts at polling locations across the country. Regardless, people need to be aware of their surroundings and keep themselves safe in these tense times.