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Monday, November 5, 2012

Shutting the Gates Over Fears of Election Unrest

A gated community near Atlanta has decided to step up security this week. The reason is not burglaries, but another issue entirely: the presidential election.

In Woodstock, Ga., about 30 miles north of Atlanta, the president of a homeowners' association sent an e-mail on Sunday informing residents that the entrance gates would be closed 24 hours a day beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, out of concern over possible civil unrest after the election.

“I feel it is better to take a position of caution to enhance controlled access to the community until we see what (if any) negative repercussions may occur because of the results of the election,” wrote Bill Stanley, the president of the homeowners' association at the Cottages of Woodstock, a residential community for people 55 and over.

The entrance gates have been open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during a construction project. Mr. Stanley said the gates would be closed round the clock until next Monday â€" “if all g oes well.”

The e-mail, which took some residents by surprise, was the latest sign that fringe voices predicting looting and rioting after the election have been making some nervous. The radical predictions have had an anti-Obama tinge, with some warning of civil disobedience depending on whether President Obama wins or loses the election.

In Texas, the top elected official in Lubbock County caused a stir when he said in August that he was expecting civil unrest if Mr. Obama was re-elected. “And we're not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy,” the official, County Judge Tom Head, said on the Fox station in Lubbock. “O.K. Now what's going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops. I don't want them in Lubbock County.”

Last week, a leader of the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, predicted widespread looting and mayhem if Mr. Obama lost. “People out there are going to be saying that ‘Governor Romney is going to take all this away from us,'” Bryan Fischer, the group's director of issue analysis, said on his radio program. He added: “I think there's going to be unrest. I think there will be blood.”

Mr. Stanley, the president of the homeowners' association, said in an interview that he made the decision to close the gates based on a recommendation from local law enforcement officials, and that he did not believe there would be election-related chaos.

“It has nothing to do with radical talk,” he said. “It has to do with erring on the side of caution in an over-55 community. The gates are there, that's what they're there for. To believe that there would be anything serious is ridiculous. But to err on the side of caution is prudent.”

A spokeswoman for the Woodstock Police Department said in a statemen t that the agency had no information suggesting that the election would be anything but peaceful. “Anyone suggesting otherwise does not speak on behalf of the department,” said the spokeswoman, Brittany Duncan.