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Trump: I'm Sending Law Enforcement to Polling Places

But can the president really do that?
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 22, 2020 5:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump is threatening to send law enforcement to polling places for the upcoming presidential election, part of a growing pattern of rhetoric in which he has suggested that he wants to make it harder for Americans to vote, the AP reports. During an interview Thursday night with Fox News host Sean Hannity as part of the counter-programming for the Democratic National Convention, Trump suggested he'd bring in both federal and local law enforcement. The president has repeatedly asserted, without evidence, that there will be widespread voter fraud this November. "We're going to have everything," he said. "We're going to have sheriffs, and we're going to have law enforcement, and we're going to hopefully have US attorneys ... But it's very hard."

But federal law prohibits sending "any troops or armed men" to any polling place in the country, and any effort to send them is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. One caveat: Troops can be sent in "to repel armed enemies of the United States" during voting. The law would also bar the president from sending in nonmilitary law enforcement if they are armed. Most marshals and FBI agents usually are. The Justice Department routinely conducts monitoring of polling places on Election Day with both federal observers, who are generally allowed inside polling places without written permission, as well as prosecutors and some FBI agents to ensure compliance with federal voting-rights laws.

(Read more President Trump 2020 stories.)

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