Staff Writer Jax Gay
More than a dozen top election officials across the country are raising concerns about a provision in a Homeland Security Department reauthorization bill that would allow President Trump to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places.
A letter signed by 19 bipartisan secretaries of state to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) demands the Senate leave out a proposal from final legislation that would allow Secret Service agents to accompany lawmakers to polling places when they vote.
“This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers,” reads a letter obtained by The Boston Globe.
“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," the letter continues.
One of the letter's signatories, Democratic Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin called the DHS proposal "worthy of a Third World country."
“This is worthy of a Third World country,” said Galvin. “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.”
"The potential for mischief here is enormous,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the agency denied that the Secret Service agents would be used in a law enforcement capacity, stating that the "clarifying language" was a response to a 2016 incident in which poll workers stopped agents from accompanying a lawmaker to vote over concerns it violated federal law.
“The only time armed Secret Service personnel would be at a polling place would be to facilitate the visiting of one of our protectees while they voted,” Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan told the Globe.