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.