Trump Administration Wants To Start Sending Secret Service Agents To Polling Stations

from the Make-America-Grovel-Again dept

Something pretty ugly has been attached as a rider to a routine reauthorization bill. If the bill manages to move forward without this being stripped, future elections would resemble those held by dictatorial governments, where the outcome is assured before the first voter is even intimidated.

President Trump would be able to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during a federal election, a vast expansion of executive authority, if a provision in a Homeland Security reauthorization bill remains intact.

This appears to be the result of Trump’s continued insistence he would have won the popular vote if there hadn’t been so many illegal votes. Of course, the administration has produced no evidence this happened in the last election. The only story that surfaced as a result of this post-election scrutiny was one involving someone who voted twice… for Trump.

Needless to say, state officials overseeing elections are horrified. The intrusion of the law enforcement branch that works closest with the president would give elections the appearance that Secret Service agents are there to prevent voters from voting for the wrong person. Given Trump’s antipathy towards anyone that isn’t white with a red hat, dispatched agents would certainly deter those not matching the chosen description from exercising their rights.

State officials are trying to get the attention of unwary Capitol Hill legislators before it’s too late. The bill with the rider attached has already passed in the House. The Senate is still looking through its two versions of the reauthorization bill — one with the rider attached and one that’s arguably more respectful of voting rights and the citizens exercising them.

“There is no discernible need for federal secret service agents to intrude, at the direction of the president, who may also be a candidate in that election, into thousands of citadels where democracy is enshrined,” according to a letter opposing the provision that was signed by 19 bipartisan secretaries of state and elections commissioners.

The letter — sent to the Senate’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and its minority leader, Charles Schumer, on Friday afternoon —requests that the Senate keep the Secret Service provision from the final legislation. The elections officials described the proposal as “unprecedented and shocking.”

“This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers,” according to the letter, which was obtained by the Globe.

Very few people are going to see the presence of federal agents — especially from an agency with close ties to the White House — and think a fair election is in progress. The presence of any federal agents would be cause for concern, if not for the integrity of the election, than for the safety of those voting. Generally, a large law enforcement presence does not indicate safety. It indicates the area they’re guarding may come under attack. Either way, this will do nothing for voter turnout and will definitely dissuade those who aren’t voting for the party in power from casting their vote.

As it stands now, federal law prohibits federal agents for entering polling places. This rider would eliminate a protection put in place to protect Americans from government intrusion into the democratic process. Dispatching the Secret Service to any place Trump feels might be overrun with fake voters would only give citizens the impression the fix is in. And if it’s already been decided, why bother running a federal gauntlet just to show support for your candidates?

Hopefully, common sense will prevail. But given the fact the rider was already approved by one half of legislative branch, relying on common sense seems almost nonsensical.

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Comments on “Trump Administration Wants To Start Sending Secret Service Agents To Polling Stations”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he’s surrounded himself with white supremacists. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he called the murderous Nazis in Charlottesville “good people”. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that both the Klan and Nazis have gone on the record stating that Trump supports them. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon have played key roles in his administration/campaign. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he called for the execution of the Central Park Five AFTER they were exonerated by DNA. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he was fined for racial discrimination in housing. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he calls out black politicians and athletes but not white ones. Gosh, it must be just a coincidence that he’s directed the Justice Department to stop going over the most violent and dangerous people in America: white supremacists.

If you don’t see all this (and there’s more, but I got tired of typing it out) then you’re willfully blind. TRUMP IS A RACIST, dummy.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But Trump holds rallies talking about the plight of black people!

Rallies that are attended by mostly white people sure… where he talks as if all blacks live in crime infested urban areas… and all of them are on welfare… despite the fact that none of those things are true…

OMG, Trump is totally a racist, I must be the first person to notice!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, far easier than either a) reading opinions from someone who disagrees with you politically or b) scrolling past the article when you see his name.

But, hey, why exercise intelligent thought or risk being exposed to alternative ideas, when you can just create an echo chamber for yourself? If you build it right, the world will conform to your ideas instead of you being forced to adapt to the world!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s one of the silly labels that the right-wing media outlets seem to use to describe people they don’t like. In my experience, it’s a red flag indicating that the people using it aren’t worth your time nor interested in addressing positions you actually hold. They’ll usually attack strawmen then call you names and disappear when you correct them.

This guy can prove us wrong if he wants. But, since his reaction thus far has been to whine about a blog writer having opinions different from his, and wishes to hide those ideas rather than discuss them, he probably won’t do that.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“I actually agree with him, for the most part.”

Then why is your reaction to try and avoid him and call him names rather than address the smaller points you disagree with him on?

“The fact that you see all criticism as disagreement”

No intelligent criticism has been presented as yet. Give it a try, you might see a better reaction than I have to childish name calling and whining that the author isn’t reflecting your personal political views.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Given the frequent wars in the comment section from varying perspectives…

No, Techdirt is arguably not an echo chamber. Being an echo chamber would imply the ability to shut out those who disagree and prevent them from posting comments.

Even when a comment is hidden due to being flagged, you can still click to show it. The ability to comment without logging in means there is no effective way to ban people from the system.

Techdirt just fights speech with more speech, regardless of what perspective you hold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

People who can’t write about anything without injecting identity politics. They think they sound smart and clever, but all they’re doing is changing their writing from something compelling and thoughtful to something that only appeals to people who already agree with them.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

Heh, thanks. To remind everyone what I said earlier about people who use terms like “SJW” seriously:

“They’ll usually attack strawmen then call you names and disappear when you correct them.”

I forgot the whining about echo chambers, but it otherwise holds true here. I’m still yet to see anyone use such terms and not scurry back to whichever swamp they picked the terms up from once they realise they’re being seriously challenged.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’ve seen enough idiots to know that anyone who uses “SJW” seriously are probably getting so much misinformation from their chosen news sources that they aren’t worth debating with. They usually seem to be addressing strawmen and fantasies rather than real life issues, because they’ve been trained to apply silly labels to people and assign teams rather than address actual ideas..

But, I normally exercise my brain to avoid them, rather than pretending you people don’t exist. That way, I’ll occasionally come across comments like yours and be reminded that people like you sadly still exist.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“No, they’re already capable of having discussions without everything devolving into identity politics.”

Then why are you name calling instead of doing that?

“They dig in against different challenges to the hivemind aspects of their communities.”

When the only thing presented from outside of the “hivemind” is people calling names and whining that the author doesn’t subscribe to their vires, can you really blame them? You’re not even being original with your whining.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Then why are you name calling instead of doing that?

That’s actually you.

>When the only thing presented from outside of the “hivemind” is people calling names

Again, you.

>whining that the author doesn’t subscribe to their vires

Not what’s happening. And I don’t believe you could miss the point this hard without doing so intentionally.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

These sites being the ones that are themselves so “hiveminded” that they can’t refer to the people who disagree with them as anything other than “the left”, “snowflakes”, and “libtards”, even when they are none of those things?

The same sites that, despite all evidence and facts to the contrary, insist black is white, the sky is falling, and Ajit Pai saved the internet? Those sites?

Don’t make me laugh.

David says:

Re: Desire to be Dictator

The U.S. never aimed to be a democracy. It is a republic. The electoral college is just one measure for mitigating the influence of less desirable people. Slaves and women were not supposed to vote at all. Trump is just turning back the clock and not even to the Middle Ages.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Desire to be Dictator

Can we please do away with the electoral college now? Please? It’s an antiquated system easily replaced by the instant communication of which we’re now capable.

Well, communication is just as instant from Russia. If you don’t get your information via slower and more reliable channels, you might just as well elect Trump president.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Desire to be Dictator

The U.S. never aimed to be a democracy. It is a republic.

Oh, don’t start that nonsense. The US is a democracy, as intended. It’s also a republic. The two are not mutually exclusive. "Republic" just means no monarch.

Non-republic democracies also tended to limit voting to white males until around the same time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Desire to be Dictator

“The electoral college is just one measure for mitigating the influence of less desirable people.”

The electoral college was created when the educated and well-off lived on country estates and plantations.
Workers, merchants, and craftsmen lived in the cities, and were usually less-educated than the rich.
After the Industrial Revolution, the educated and rich now live in the cities and the uneducated live on farms and small towns, so the electoral college gives priority to the ignorant, as this past election proved!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not even to the Middle Ages.

No. The corporations have turned us back to the middle ages. They are the new aristocracy, only they owe fealty only to their shareholders and neither the territory nor the people who dwell upon them.

So we’ve receded back to a perversion of feudalism before the social contract.

I’d say I miss the rule of law as defined by the Napoleonic code, but we never had that.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Desire to be Dictator

It seems to me that even if they are being hit from all sides by those in power, American democratic protections are pretty strong. They have been under fire for decades now and haven’t broken down yet. Trump is the ultimate trial. If the US survives this then it’s going to be a much better place.

Time will tell.

Annonymouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Desire to be Dictator

Well the trial was already passed when the anointed one did not win despite all her and those in the shadows tried otherwise.
I am surprised at how long this supposedly despised President has lasted without being shot at compared to historical precedence. Oh right. He brought in his own security on the get go. ????????????

David says:

Re: Re: Desire to be Dictator

It seems to me that even if they are being hit from all sides by those in power, American democratic protections are pretty strong. They have been under fire for decades now and haven’t broken down yet. Trump is the ultimate trial.

Oh nonsense. Democratic protections rely on the populace doing/wanting the right thing. An election which fails to make anybody but the "ultimate trial" president means that the democratic protections have broken down.

That holds even if you consider Trump the lesser evil since democratic protections are meaningless when procedures leave nothing but evil to choose from.

You cannot talk about the U.S. as if it were an occupied country. That’s just revisionism, like a Germany or other country full of resistance fighters overcome by a few dozen magical bad guys like "the Nazis".

You can’t magically hope this to be the worst to come yet and magically better choices being available next time round. Where should those better choices be coming from, and why would they be allowed to thrive in the first place?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Silly

This whole thing is silly and much ado about nothing.

No Secret Service agents will be at polling places monitoring your votes. The agency only has 2500 agents total. And they’re already damn busy trying to protect the people they’re assigned to protect. There’s no physical way the USSS could monitor elections at the thousands of polling places across the country even if they completely dropped protection on all the officials in their charge– which is something they’re never going to do.

The source of this kerfuffle was a rider in a bill to permit Secret Service agents at a polling place WHEN THE PERSON THEY ARE PROTECTING GOES TO VOTE THERE. Apparently during the last election there was some pushback when Hillary Clinton went to vote and the poll workers didn’t want to let her Secret Service detail into the polling place with her. So this rider is meant to address that issue and make it legal for USSS agents to be present at a polling place when their protectee is voting.

That’s it. That’s all it is.

It’s no evil conspiracy to turn Trump into a dictator and if Cushing was honest and not pushing his own political agenda here, he’d have included the full explanation in his article.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Silly


Section 592 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

“This section shall not prevent any officer or agent of the United States Secret Service from providing armed protective services authorized under section 3056 or pursuant to a Presidential memorandum at any place where a general or special election is held.”

That does exactly what I said it does. It amends the law to make it clear that USSS agents cannot be barred from a polling place if they are providing protection to an authorized protectee. Nothing more.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Silly

That phrase relates to how people become USSS protectees. There’s a list in Section 3056 of officials who automatically receive USSS protection (president, vice president, spouses, foreign heads of state, etc.) and at the end of that list it says, “And anyone else whom the president directs via memorandum”. Which means the president can order the USSS to protect someone who’s not on the automatic list if he deems it necessary. This is how, for example, Obama’s mother-in-law became a USSS protectee while Obama was in office. Obama directed the USSS to protect her.

That’s what the “pursuant to a Presidential memorandum” phrase is referring to. It’s saying that “if a Secret Service agent is protecting someone under the authority of 3056 or under the authority of presidential memorandum, he/she cannot be barred from a polling place”.

This really is a huge nothing-burger that has people who don’t understand statutory language all in a lather for no reason whatsoever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Silly

Thank you for your perspective. Your’s was originally mine until I read 4102 a second time and noted that my original view was fully met had 4102 stopped upon referencing 3056. The text following “or” can be read as an authorization that is in addition to the authorization conferred by 3056.

Personally, I do believe you are correct. Nevertheless, I cannot dismiss the possibility that a court presented 4102, if enacted as passed by the House, for interpretation might take a hyper-technical approach towards grammatical construction.

John E Cressman (profile) says:

Get back to tech stuff

Please get back to things you can speak intelligently on.

You may a number of completely false statements and quite a WRONG few assumptions based on some vague theory that you obviously created from a warped liberal mindset.

While I agree that the Secret Service is probably NOT the agency to be monitoring election polling stations, the fact that there ARE monitors should make people feel SAFER to vote, knowing there is someone there to prevent ANY political organization or group from intimidating LEGAL voters.

But… the moment they advocate one party over another or turn away a single LEGAL voter, then I would have a problem with it. THAT’S when it becomes similar to a dictatorship. If there are secret service agents walking into the booth with guns drawn while you cast your vote, then we have an issue. Just having armed members of law enforcement around… no… not even REMOTELY close to the “elections” in dictatorships.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Get back to tech stuff

You’d think by now the number of times you idiots have whined about this site not covering tech on a particular story, you’d have worked out by now that this site does not only cover tech issues.

But, you’re clearly a partisan idiot so you’re rather whine about “liberals” than accept objective reality into your thought process.

“But… the moment they advocate one party over another or turn away a single LEGAL voter”

That’s far, far, far more likely than Trump’s claim that he only lost the popular vote by 3 million due to illegal voting.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Get back to tech stuff

“Illegals voting has.”

Oooh, do you have some of that proof that Trump never bothers to provide? Cool, let’s see it!

I would note that voters being turned away tends to happen with a little more subtlety, through poll taxes, gerrymandering and the like rather than literally standing there at the door, but this isn’t an administration that’s known for subtlety.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Get back to tech stuff

Well, that’s certainly covered by poll taxes, I think. But, I’ve seen far more evidence of disenfranchising certain groups of people than I have of illegal immigrants voting. The idea that immigrants would risk deportation by voting in an election where their individual vote will not have a significant impact doesn’t even make sense to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Get back to tech stuff

Voters being turned away because they have no special ID that was just made mandatory … you mean those folk?

Illegal voting aka voter fraud has indeed happened. I think one can count them on one hand. The last one I read about was some dude that thought he could cast his deceased wife’s ballot.

On the other hand – electoral fraud is a huge problem.

But you knew this – right?

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Get back to tech stuff

IF we were talking about a neutral law enforcement force being present, perhaps you’d be right. If you read the entire article you’d hopefully have noted that the true issue here is the presence of a clearly NON-NEUTRAL force.

There’s a good reason federal forces are not allowed at polling places. Their presence is not neutral and absolutely represents a threat. If you cannot see that then I suggest you go study sociology and psychology a little more. They don’t have to DO anything to affect people’s decisions at the polls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Get back to tech stuff

the fact that there ARE monitors should make people feel SAFER to vote, knowing there is someone there to prevent ANY political organization or group from intimidating LEGAL voters.

I disagree. I would feel much safer if there is no one with a gun standing around. If some group shows up to try to intimidate legal voters, you call the local cops. But until such a threat manifests, having armed guards present only escalates tension/anxiety because they themselves might be seen as intimidation or as a sign that such protection is necessary; where otherwise I would have assumed everything is fine.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: no literacy required

“Who was it that said “We have to vote on it to find out what’s in it””

Someone who’s constantly incorrectly quoted out of context to distort what she was actually talking about. It seems to be a popular tactic in some quarters, since otherwise people who actually hear the correct context seem to end up agreeing with the speaker rather than the “news” outlet.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:


Trump is a fascist, pure and simple. He DEMANDS loyalty. If you did not vote for him, you made an illegal vote. He praised/is praising Duterte, who instituted executions of SUSPECTED drug dealers, not convicted, suspected. He praised Erdogan as his men attacked US citizens on US soil. He praised President Xi as he became president for life in China. THEN SUGGESTED WE SHOULD DO THE SAME. *Here’s where Trump is an Idiot, before 1952 we did NOT have a term limit on the office of the president, it wasn’t until FDR’s 4th term that everyone said, "you know, maybe we should have a term limit." And do we even have to discuss Putin/Trump yaoi relationship?

Republicans, by and large, are also complicit. They do not want to govern, they want to rule. Any Republican that puts party over country is (or at least should be) guilty of outright treason, or at the very least sedition against the United States. By defending Trump, they are also defending all of the above leaders I have talked about. Oh yes, John McCain will be "Very concerned" but is unlikely to do Jack and Shit about it. The simple fact is, To many Republicans, being Literal Hitler is better than being a dirty commie treehugging hipster Democrat, Even being Literal Satan is better than that.

Anonymous Coward says:

rules be damned - people will act in their own interest

Although I usually agree with Tim Cushing, I think his logic is completely flawed here.

When the threat of deportation is hanging over the heads of illegal aliens, depending on the outcome of an election, they have every reason and incentive to unlawfully vote (for Democrat candidates of course).

Likewise, any Democratic party official would be a fool not to secretly encourage this sort of illegal voting, since it obviously helps get Democrats elected.

In contrast, Republicans would benefit by spreading false rumors that polling stations would be scrutinizing voters in search of illegal voters and naturalized citizens who have an illegal alien in their household (reportedly a significant percentage) in the hope of preventing a large segment of eligible voters from voting (for Democratic candidates)

Yes, it’s all dirty and underhanded, but isn’t everything in politics? A “fair” election is when the effects of Republican skullduggery cancel out Democrat skullduggery, even if both are present in spades.

Agammamon says:

1. Are there even enough SS agents for this to have any effect? And what are they going to do there? Check IDs of anyone who isn’t sufficiently close to either end of the skin spectrum (ie, isn’t Black or White)?

2. Does Trump think the SS *is on his side*? There’s only two possibilities for the SS – they take their duty seriously and so don’t take sides (in which case they won’t be doing anything at a polling station) or they’re part of the deep state, wouldn’t be unhappy if Trump ate a bullet, and would be more likely to help his *opponent* get elected.

There is no way that deploying SS agents to anywhere is going to provide him an advantage.

dickeyrat says:

What will probably happen

It’s all building the platform for Trump to outright-cancel the 2020 election, due to some unforeseen “national emergency”, then remain in power for life, the way his much-admired Xi is doing in China. Even Trump will eventually die; then the power can be passed directly to his idiot sons.
North Korea has its Kims, Haiti had its Duvaliers, Cuba had its Castros–and America will have its Trumps.

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