Alan Bethea, 45, was volunteering at the polls at Louisa May Alcott School when he got into a verbal altercation with fellow polling staffers. During the exchange, he displayed a handgun, threatening those he was disagreeing with, though he did not point it at them.
Bethea left the school, but was found by police, who recovered the weapon and a small amount of marijuana in his backpack. He was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, having a weapon under a disability, and drug abuse. He was taken to a central jail, a local TV station reported.
"The incident concluded almost immediately with the arrest of Alan Bethea who allegedly displayed a weapon which led to his arrest. The Board is assisting the Cleveland Police Department in their investigation and voting was not interrupted by the incident,” the Board of Elections said in a statement.
One of the women who claims she was threatened, Tonya Gallardo, provided ThinkProgress with additional details. She explained the fight between the man and another volunteer began over his handling of a disabled voter. When the other volunteer told him to go assist the person, he yelled at her. When Gallardo asserted this behavior is unacceptable and began to call the Board of Elections to have him removed, things escalated.
“I could hear him from all the way over here. He said, ‘She’s gonna die tonight. She’s gonna die,'” Gallardo explained to ThinkProgress. “He went and opened his bag, and showed the girl next to him — ‘Look what I’ve got for her.'”
Gallardo is now asserting that the Board of Elections failed her and other residents.
“The Board of Elections really needs to do their background on these people,” Gallardo stated.
She noted that, as his charges include having a weapon under disability, it likely means Bethea has a criminal record that prevents him from owning a gun. She questions why he was allowed to assist at the polls, especially at an elementary school.
“They need to get responsible people, especially when you’re in churches and schools and kids are involved,” she said, noting that children were present when he made the threats. “What if he would have opened fire with that gun, and hit one of those babies? Do you know how that would have devastated us? My mind would have never been right.”
Currently, no states require background checks on polling volunteers.