Police officers and sheriffs from around the country helped control large crowds of supporters and protestors on the streets of Cleveland during the Republican National Convention Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Police officers and sheriffs from around the country helped control large crowds of supporters and protestors on the streets of Cleveland during the Republican National Convention.

Keeping Large Crowds Safe During Election Year Events

Every four years, the American people have the opportunity to be a part of the most important political process, the presidential elections. Election hoopla starts much earlier than the Nov. 8 election day, with political conventions, rallies and fundraisers.

The 2016 election season has been a busy one! With primaries, rallies, conventions, debates, protests, parades...

So far, this year has been an especially exciting process, with thousands of potential voters attending political events across the country. And while every election cycle is no stranger to protests and large crowds, this year in particular has been dubbed one of the most uncertain and potentially unruly situations for political events.

Regardless of electoral preference, it’s no stretch to say that the safety and wellbeing of American voters is the most important issue on the ballot. So, in order to keep voters out of harm’s way while keeping the process timely and effective, political conventions, rallies and voting stations must follow a few extremely important and effective guidelines.

Step #1: Be Prepared for Large Crowds

While every election cycle brings sizable crowds, many locations including voting stations, still seem unprepared when the time comes. Just this year, hundreds of potential voters faced an unacceptable wait of over six hours to vote in primaries across the nation.

Many of these voters were left wandering around parking lots as they waited, and some ultimately were turned away at the door due to a lack of resources, time and organization. This November, in order to avoid any repeats of this unacceptable behavior, polling stations must keep the quantity of potential voters in mind.

To keep things organized, consider implementing a queue management system. This could be as simple as implementing guidance barriers and post-and-rope stanchions, or something as sophisticated as an electronic queuing system. Either way, these queue management solutions will keep a steadily flowing and organized queue outside and inside of the polling place.

This way the American people can exercise their right to vote with no unnecessary obstacles ahead and minimal frustration.

Step #2: Have Clearly Visible Entry and Exit Points

One of the most important steps to ensuring safety at political conventions, events and rallies is to make sure that the convention center, outdoor area or public space is situated with highly visible entry and exit points. This way, in case of emergency, all attendees are able to quickly find a way out of harm’s way.

For attendees, it’s important to make a conscious effort to continually review where the nearest entry and exit routes are.

Step #3: Have Enough Trained Staff on Hand

The election period is a highly charged, emotional time for many voters. When you mix that emotion with large gatherings, the possibility for unruly behavior skyrockets.

In order to keep a situation calm and collected, political rallies must have highly trained staff to assist. Consider hiring additional staff as well as having multiple meetings with shareholders prior to the event so that every staff member is familiar with their surroundings as well as their day-of obligations.

If there are not enough staff members on hand to provide direction, etc., think about throwing technology into the mix. Consider adding digital signage to help with disseminating important information verbally, visually and via touchpad to attendees. This way, trained staff will be free to keep a focus on keeping the surroundings safe and orderly throughout the event.

Overall, the most important part of the political process is the opportunity to express the American right of freedom of speech through voting. But in order to put that freedom into practice, political conventions, rallies, and voting stations must keep safety at the forefront, regardless of nominee preference.

About the Author: David Cohen is head business development for Tensator Group.

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