'Civil rights advocates and top election officials are expressing alarm over a section in the Department of Homeland Security reauthorization bill that would allow the president to send Secret Service agents to polling places.
"Who in their right mind would give this vulgar talking yam this kind of power?" quipped Charles P. Pierce at Esquire.
The House passed its version of the legislation on July 20, 2017. It includes a provision that would amend the federal law barring troops at polling sites by adding the text: "This section shall not prevent any officer or agent of the United States Secret Service from providing armed protective services authorized under section 3056 or pursuant to a presidential memorandum at any place where a general or special election is held."
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill on Wednesday, though Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), told the Boston Globe it didn't include the provision in question. If the full Senate passes the bill, the House and Senate versions would need to be reconciled.
Given the potential threat, 19 bipartisan secretaries of state and elections commissioners sent a letter (pdf) to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y) urging them to keep the provision, which they say has "unprecedented and shocking language," out of the final version.
"This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers," the letter says.'
Read more: 'Chilling and Unprecedented': DHS Reauthorization Bill Would Let Trump Send Secret Service to Polling Places
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