President Donald Trump caused national outrage when his administration deployed federal agents to cities around the country to engage with civil rights protesters.
But that could just be the beginning — according to Newsweek, election experts are fearful that the president may also try to send federal agents to polling places, intimidating people out of casting ballots.
“The concern from election attorneys, many of whom work with Democrats, is two-fold,” wrote Adrian Carrasquillo. “In 2018, a consent decree expired first put in place in 1982 that restricted Republicans from engaging in so-called ‘ballot security’ activities like campaigns to guard against voter fraud without court approval. That decision by New Jersey district judge John Michael Vazquez, appointed by President Barack Obama, allowed Republicans to mount a sprawling $20 million program in 15 states that will include 50,000 volunteers, according to a New York Times report.”
Additionally, Carrasquillo wrote, “Election lawyers who spoke to Newsweek said they saw Trump’s tweet last week about possibly delaying the election as irrefutable evidence that he knows he’s losing to Joe Biden right now. They worry it means he might be willing to do anything to get an edge on Election Day.”
“Cornered dogs are always dangerous,” said Juan Carlos Planas, a longtime election lawyer who worked with multiple Republican presidential candidates before backing Joe Biden against Trump. “I fear it more in Wisconsin and in Michigan, where there are Democratic governors who Trump has criticized and whether or not they would have the ability to stop it.” Another lawyer affiliated with the Biden campaign said, “What if he deploys ICE to polling locations? If someone is intimidating voters you normally call cops, but what if he’s sending federal law enforcement?”
The worry, according to some of these experts, is that African-American and Hispanic voters will be targeted with accusations of voting illegally, which even if they are baseless could discourage them from voting.
Further complicating the issue is that states are making greater use of mail-in voting than ever before, with huge numbers of ballot requests and some states like Nevada and California moving to universal vote-by-mail elections.