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Editorial: Condos says, 'Too much at stake'

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Posted on March 15, 2018 |
By Angelo Lynn



Early this week, Vermont’s Secretary of State Jim Condos sent out an alarm to patriots everywhere, and specifically our congressional delegation, that a provision in a recent U.S. House bill had included a provision to allow Secret Service agents to enter polling locations at the direction of the president. The provision, Condos wrote, was included in language in House bill 2825, section 4012, which reauthorizes the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Sec. Condos was shocked to learn of it because the measure would directly violate Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which makes it a crime for a military or civil officer in the service of the United States to bring or keep their troops “at any place where a general or special election is held,” unless it is necessary to protect against an armed invasion.

“I am deeply concerned that anyone would think it reasonable to allow Secret Service agents to intrude upon the citadels of our democracy at the discretion of the president, who may also be a candidate in that election,” Condos wrote. “Opening the door for the possibility that armed federal agents could be directed by the president to patrol polling places and voting centers is a dangerous and slippery slope, and would upend a history of carefully crafted protections which ensure that presidents cannot weaponize military or civil officers to suppress and intimidate voters at their neighborhood precincts.

“This action is more emblematic of a totalitarian government than the democracy that I and other elected officials, including the President and members of Congress, have sworn an oath to protect,” he said, then called on Congress to “take immediate steps to remove this affront to our democracy from H.R.2825 and recognize that it should never have been included to begin with. I have joined with 18 other Secretaries of State, both Democrat and Republican, requesting that Senators McConnell and Schumer take immediate steps to rectify this concerning development and remove this harmful proposal.”

To Americans who are worried about the long arm of the federal government encroaching on state rights, such a move should shock them to their senses. This is another in a pattern of moves taken President Trump, and this Republican-led Congress, to create a more authoritarian system (usually under the guise of public safety) that could erode our democratic institutions.

It is an easy provision to eliminate, if only this Republican-led Congress will. As Condos says: “While it is disconcerting that we find ourselves in this position, it is my hope that our members of Congress will recognize this proposal for the true threat to our democratic process that it is. There is simply too much at stake.”

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