The Republican House recently passed a Homeland Security reauthorization bill with a rider that allows Trump to send armed Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide. Nineteen bipartisan secretaries of state have signed a letter asking the Senate to strip the rider from the bill. This letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers,” warned the letter to the Senate.
To be clear, this isn’t simply allowing Secret Service to accompany their protectees to the polls—that’s already allowed. This legislation would allow the President to dispatch armed agents to polling places at will.
“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,” it continued.
The White House is not answering questions about the rider.
Given Trump’s fixation on the myth of “voter fraud” and his obsession with voter suppression, this new legislation is downright dangerous and damaging to our democracy.
Knowing armed agents could show up to polling places at any time at wouldn’t only intimidate voters in the moment—it could also keep people targeted by the Trump administration’s voter suppression efforts, like immigrants and people of color, from the polls in the first place.
This legislation is not okay. It’s on the Senate to fix this.
Reject the DHS reauthorization rider that would allow armed Secret Service agents at polling places. This legislation is downright dangerous and damaging for our democracy.