"Trump's Latest Voter Suppression Plan Smells Dictatorial"
From Charlie Pierce:
The noisy guy who went bananas on national television on Saturday night is just brimming with new ideas these days, each one of them worse than the last. You may not have noticed, but the way we conduct our elections in this country is crazier than the president* the last one produced. (snip)
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.
The rider has prompted outrage from more than a dozen top elections officials around the country, including Secretary of State William F. Galvin of Massachusetts, a Democrat, who says he is worried that it could be used to intimidate voters and said, “This is worthy of a Third World country,” said Galvin in an interview. “I’m not going to tolerate people showing up to our polling places. I would not want to have federal agents showing up in largely Hispanic areas.”
Billy Galvin is a pol’s pol, old-school with a weather eye for electoral shenanigans. If he’s worried, the rest of us should be, too.
The provision alarming him and others is a rider attached to legislation that would re-authorize the Department of Homeland Security.
The legislation already cleared the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs didn’t include the measure in the version of the bill it approved this week, according to Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate committee. The full Senate must still approve the bill, and then the two versions of the legislation would need to be reconciled before going to the president for approval.
“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.
Who in their right mind would give this vulgar talking yam [i.e. Trump] this kind of power? The guy won’t protect the national elections from Russian ratfcking but he’s willing to send DHS into (selected) voting precincts just to be sure the figments of his inflamed and paranoid imagination aren’t stealing his rightful place among the giants of history?
And the Secret Service isn’t wild about this, either.
Under current law, the Secret Service can be stationed at a polling place to protect the president or other federal officials when voting. But they do not provide law enforcement. Catherine Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said Saturday that her agency is seeking “clarifying language” to ensure agents can access polling places while protecting candidates.