Election Lawyers Worry Trump May Send Federal Agents To Polls On Election Day
Newsweek reported Thursday that election lawyers with ties to Joe Biden’s campaign are privately concerned that President Donald Trump could attempt to suppress voter turnout in November by deploying federal agents to or near polling places.
- The news outlet wrote that such a move “would be unprecedented and heavily scrutinized, and others believe is too far even for a president who actively fuels a polarized environment over voting.”
- Part of the concern involves the 2018 expiration of a consent decree 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.
- The lawyers who spoke with Newsweek viewed Trump’s tweet about potentially delaying the election as proof that the president knows he is currently losing to Biden, and they worry it means he may be willing to do anything to boost his chances on Election Day.
"Cornered dogs are always dangerous," said Juan Carlos Planas, a Republicans for Biden member, who led John McCain's legal team in Miami-Dade [county] in Florida and also worked for George W. Bush in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012.
"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," Planas told Newsweek.
- The concern is motivated in part by Trump’s willingness to use federal agents to crack down on political opponents, the attorneys told Newsweek.
- One lawyer asked, "What if he deploys ICE to polling locations?"
They said that while undocumented immigrants can't vote, it may sow fear in Latino and immigrant communities with mixed-status families.
"If someone is intimidating voters you normally call cops, but what if he's sending federal law enforcement?" Calling the scenario "unprecedented," the source waved away the idea that they and fellow lawyers are "being alarmist."
- Newsweek noted that Biden said during a virtual fundraiser last month that his campaign would have 600 lawyers and 10,000 volunteers ready to address “the chicanery” that “ is likely to take place.”
- Planas told the news outlet: "I do suspect we are going to see perhaps purposeful disenfranchisement of African-American voters in rural counties, as well as with minority voters. Legally registered Hispanic voters will be accused of not being citizens and will have their votes challenged."