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Surveillance Video of Polling Place Sparks Concerns

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PALMVIEW – A video posted on Facebook should have never been recorded. The video came from a polling place.

It was obtained from surveillance cameras that should have been turned off.

No one should expect to see a video of them casting a ballot.

“People started taking screenshots and sending me messages,” said Linda Sarabia, a Palmview city council official. She is the target of the Facebook post.

“I was very shocked to see something like that circulating on Facebook,” she said.

Last Tuesday, two women arrived to vote at the Penitas Public Library polling place.

Sarabia said she was there to assist them, following the proper procedure.

“I explained everything to them and they told me what they wanted as their answer,” said Sarabia.

Now, the video is on social media.

The problem is the surveillance cameras should not have been recording. They should be turned off or blocked.

Texas law is very strict and clear about cell phones, tablets, laptops and recording devices near polling locations.

In face any recording, anything someone does with their cell phone has to be done within 100 feet of the polling place.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office told CHANNEL 5 NEWS they advise election staff to make sure cameras are turned off prior to the start of the election process.

We asked the Hidalgo County Elections Office for answers. We wanted to know how long the cameras were recording people voting.

The elections administrator was not available to comment.

They said the Penitas library is a new polling location. They weren’t aware of the cameras.

The elections office said they’ve been covered to maintain people’s privacy.

“We want to be able to go out and vote without thinking that Big Brother is watching,”

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Penitas to hear about their role in letting this all happen. We’re still waiting to hear back.

Texas’ strict rule about cameras in the polling place was broken.

It all became public in a feud between two political teams.

Sarabia said she’s submitting complaints to the district attorney and the Texas Secretary of State. That office said any penalties for this mistake would need to come from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

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