WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Dispute Between Shop Talk Panelist and Poll Worker

Nov 7, 2018

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said she got into it with a worker at the early voting place in the Western Illinois University Union.  The poll worker told Crighton's student reporters they could not video record there.

Crighton said she’s heard this complaint from several students in recent years so she went to the union’s early polling place to cast her ballot and – sure enough – a worker tried to stop a student from video recording the process. 

Crighton said the poll worker claimed to be an elected official and said she had to grant her permission for anyone to record.  Crighton countered that the union is a public place, and she told her student to proceed with recording.  

Crighton said her students have recorded at other polling places in the county on Election Day and have never encountered problems there.

Panelist Rich Egger said the poll worker either misspoke or misidentified herself because the only elected official connected with the election is the county clerk.  Others in the clerk’s office are hired staff.

Egger wondered if the county worker thought she could push around a student.  He said he took photos of a first-time voter at the polling place in the McDonough County Courthouse.  He was not allowed to photograph from behind the voter while she was at the voting machine but otherwise no one stopped him from doing his job.

Panelist Will Buss said perhaps the county worker got nervous when she saw the video being recorded.  He said cameras and microphones sometimes have that effect on people.  But he added the student was doing the job of a journalist and should not have been prevented from doing so.

Buss said attacks on the journalism industry – like those frequently made by President Trump -- don’t help in such cases.  But he suggested the poll workers need better training to understand what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.