Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Placing armed officials at polling stations is bad for democracy

President Trump recently proposed legislation to place Secret Service agents — armed security officials assigned with the task of protecting the president — at polling places during federal elections. This would include both presidential elections and the upcoming midterm elections — the results of which will decide what party will gain control of Congress and ultimately the ability to pass favorable legislative for that party.

The bill, which includes a provision that would grant such power to the Secret Service, has already passed in the House of Representatives and is awaiting approval from the Senate and the president. But many Senate members and other state officials, including Massachusetts State Secretary William Galvin, have expressed they are strongly opposed to the idea. Several state secretaries signed a letter urging Senate to exclude the provision in the final legislation.

While many parts of the bill are unclear, namely the exact nature of the agents’ responsibilities at the voter booths, it is evident why Trump would encourage this measure to be adopted. Though voter fraud hasn’t been an issue in any election thus far, the president is seeking to ensure that cases of voter fraud don’t happen in the future, when he or other members of his party could potentially run for reelection. However, this is an odd thing to focus on, because despite not winning the popular vote, Trump still sealed his victory in the last election fair and square, and voter fraud certainly played no role in the results.

With midterm elections coming around the corner, this measure was proposed to ensure the Republican party and its platform gets a strong voice in passing laws that align with Trump’s hateful and hurtful agenda. But voter fraud certainly cannot be prevented by muscle, nor does it ever escalate to the point of violence — at least for now. The dystopian, totalitarian future that Trump envisions for this country comes closer to reality every day with bills like these potentially becoming law.

Cases of voter fraud are uncommon in the United States. For the most part, voter fraud doesn’t even occur at polling stations and usually happens from people forging signatures on absentee ballots. Thus, the issue does not warrant a solution that involves violence or guns at all. It boils down to Trump’s inherent mistrust in many facts and figures presented by reputable sources. Voter fraud is a non-issue in this country and has limited power in actually swaying election results. Trying to solve it with a method used in authoritarian regimes isn’t going to accomplish anything.

Not only would the idea not solve voter fraud, but it would also dissuade voters from turning up at polling stations. Voter suppression comes into direct violation of the the 14th Amendment, which grants equal protection under law and has historically struck down laws that inhibited people from voting. In a country where voter turnout rates are already low, this could threaten minority communities, particularly Hispanic populations that already feel under attack due to anti-immigration laws. The passage of the provision would only aggravate these tensions.

Looking at the provision from a more tactical standpoint, shifting the media’s attention onto a meaningless, pointless provision is a smart choice, albeit wrong and unnecessary, by Trump. This measure is yet another instance of Trump influencing the media, steering the conversation away from the Stormy Daniels scandal and Mueller indictments, to something more sensational. The topic of guns has been hot-button topic lately, and so there is a high likelihood that administration deliberately decided to pick a new battle. As this proposal makes headlines, it shifts attention toward the upcoming elections and away from Trump’s wrongdoings.  

If we want our midterms to resemble anything remotely close to American ideals, then we should look at ways to invest in cyber security to prevent meddling from other countries in our elections. That would be a more productive way to monitor and uphold democracy, which is a value that seems to lose weight everyday in Trump’s America.

Comments are closed.