Washington (Associated Press)-Federal laws and long-standing habits usually keep the US military out of the electoral process. But President Donald Trump’s baseless warnings about widespread voting violations raised questions about possible military roles.
If any army is involved, it is likely to be the National Guard controlled by the state. These citizen soldiers can help state or local law enforcement in any major election-related violence. However, the guard’s more likely role will be less visible-acting as a pollster, not uniform, and providing cyber security expertise to monitor potential intrusions into the election system.
Unlike regular active duty soldiers, the guard is responsible to the governor, not the president. In limited circumstances, Trump can federalize them, but in that case, they will usually be barred from law enforcement.
Take a look at the potential role of the National Guard in the election:
What might the guards do?
In the event of violence, the governor can activate the guard to assist safety. In a demonstration in Pennsylvania last week, there was a demonstration about the police killing Walter Wallace Jr. In Philadelphia. The Mayor’s Office said that New York City asked the Pennsylvania National Guard to provide “current situation and election preparation”
In some states, due to shortages caused by the pandemic, members of the guards in plain clothes were used as poll workers in the primary elections. The New Jersey guard is now helping the ballot, and other states, including Wisconsin, say they may use the guard in polls.
Stephen Dycus, an emeritus professor at the Vermont Law School, said that states can deploy uniformed guard units when necessary to help maintain order in the polls. However, he said: “There is a good line between protection and intimidation. Therefore, any activity designed to scare voters or suppress voting is a violation of federal election law.”
To prepare for any emergency, including civil unrest before and after the election, the National Guard has designated a military police force Acting as a rapid reaction force in two states. According to the Guard, if the governor of another state requests, approximately 600 soldiers (300 in Alabama and Arizona) will be ready for deployment within 24 hours. The leaders of the National Guard purchased additional protective equipment and increased the training of soldiers in proper procedures during the protests.
Can the Federal Reserve be smashed?
Federal law allows the president to federalize the guards in very limited circumstances, including when he “cannot enforce U.S. laws with regular forces.” This language may be acceptable for explanation, but in next week’s election, it seems that it will allow federalization only when the ability of state and local officials to vote and count has collapsed.
If the president federalizes the guards, they will be under his control, not the governor. The president can order them into the state without the permission of the governor.
William Banks, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Law, said that sending uniformed troops to the polls, including the guards, is unwise.
“The most important point is that we don’t want the military to participate in our civil affairs. This just cuts off our history, our conditions, our values, and our laws,” he said.
What about active soldiers?
Senior military and defense leaders have stated many times that they believe that the active U.S. forces have no role. In the election.
Legal experts say that the two laws explicitly prohibit the use of active duty or federal National Guard troops in opinion polls. Banks said a law criminalizes the use of military forces in opinion polls unless “the armed enemies of the United States must be repelled.” The second law prohibits the armed forces from conducting any voting interference or intimidation in polls.
According to the “Constitution of the Bosnian People”, soldiers on active duty cannot be used for civil law enforcement. In extreme cases, the president can invoke the rarely used Uprising Law and use the military for law enforcement. If Trump invoked the Uprising Act in the absence of an extreme emergency, he might be resisted by the leaders of the Pentagon, and he might also face rapid court challenges.
During the civil unrest in June, Trump considered invoking the bill to use active military personnel for law enforcement. The military leaders were opposed; it never happened.
Dekus said that the Riot Act can only be used if the civil law cannot solve the problem. Banks said the president will first have to issue a declaration calling for an end to violence.
What is the national plan?
Many states have stated that they have no plans to mobilize their guards to perform election duties, and some states have already done so. Army brig. General Robin Brad, assistant deputy secretary of the Wisconsin National Guard, said on Wednesday that state officials have not yet decided whether to use guard members as pollsters. They did so in all three elections this year due to the COVID-19 issue.
Major General Darryl L. Pohak, the deputy governor of Nebraska and the head of the National Guard, told reporters that his state believes that during the election period, the guard has no prospect of federalization. He said that the governor is already considering emergency situations, “they will be the focus of any national unrest or national unrest using the National Guard after the election.”
In Delaware and Washington, members of the Guard will provide election-related cybersecurity assistance. In Tennessee, the Guard is opening drilling facilities in rural areas to be used as polling stations, but the Guard will not play a direct role.
In Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine (Mike DeWine) said he will do what is needed.
He said: “If the mayor asks for help, I will not hesitate and added that if law enforcement asks for help, we will have discussions, and then of course we can deploy the National Guard. We hope that is not necessary.”
Associated Press reporter Mike Catalini from Trenton, New Jersey, Scott Ball from Madison, Wisconsin, Andrew Welsh Hudgens from Columbus, Ohio, and Dover, Delaware Randall Chase contributed to this.