WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal law and longstanding customs often prevent the US military from participating in the electoral process. But President Donald Trump’s unfounded warnings about popular vote anomalies have raised questions about the possible military role.
If any part of the military is involved, it could be the National Guard under state control. These civic soldiers can help state or local law enforcement deal with any major election-related violence. But the Security Force’s more likely roles will be less visible – fill as pollster, wear a uniform, and provide expertise in cybersecurity in getting the job done. monitoring potential intrusions into the electoral system.
Unlike the regular active army, the Guard responded to his state governor, not the president. Under limited circumstances, Trump could federalize them, but in that case they would generally be barred from law enforcement.
Consider the role of the potential National Guard in elections:
WHAT DOES THE SECURET DO?
The Governor can activate the Security Force to help protect security in case of violence. That happened this week in Pennsylvania amid protests over police killing Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia. The mayor̵7;s office said the city had asked the Pennsylvania National Guard for help “the current situation and the election preparations.”
In some states, members of the Guard in civilian attire are used as polls in the primary elections because of shortages caused by the pandemic. The Security Force in New Jersey is currently helping to vote and other states including Wisconsin have said they can use the Guardians at the ballots.
Stephen Dycus, professor emeritus at the Vermont Law School, said the states could, if needed, deploy uniformed Guards to help keep order at the ballots. However, he said, “there’s a very good line between defense and intimidation. Therefore, any activity designed to intimidate voters or suppress voting is in violation of federal election law. ”
In preparation for any emergencies, including civil unrest surrounding the election, the National Guard appointed military police units. in two states to make the force to react quickly. According to the Guard, some 600 soldiers – 300 in both Alabama and Arizona – will be ready to deploy within 24 hours if the governor of another state requests it. National Guard leaders purchased additional protective equipment and increased military training on proper procedures during the demonstrations.
IS TRUMP PROTECTED BY THE FEDERATION?
Federal law allows the president to federalize the Guardians under very limited circumstances, even if he “cannot join the regular forces to enforce US law.” The language may be open to explain, but in the context of next week’s elections it appears to only allow federalization if there is a fundamental problem with officials’ ability to conduct and count votes. state and local authorities.
If the president federalizes the Guardians, they will be under his control, not the governor. And a president can order them to enter a state without the governor’s permission.
William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University Law School, says sending uniformed troops to the polls, including the Guardians, would be unwise.
“The important point is we don’t want the military to get involved in our civil affairs. It just goes against our historical factors, our conditions, our values, our laws, ”he said.
WHAT ABOUT THE ACTIVE TEAM?
Senior military and defense leaders have repeatedly said that they believe there is no role for the active US army. in an election.
Legal experts say two laws clearly prohibit the use of active or federal National Guard forces in the polls. The banks said a law criminalizes military use at polls unless it is “necessary to repel the armed enemies of the United States.” The Second Act prohibits any interference or threat of voting by the armed forces.
Under the Posse Comitatus Act, active troops are not used to enforce civil law. In extreme cases, the president can invoke the Resurrection Act is rarely used to use the military to enforce the law. If Trump enacts the Resurrection Act in an extreme emergency, he could face resistance from Pentagon leaders and also face a quick court challenge.
During a period of civil unrest in June, Trump considered invoking that action to use active troops to enforce the law. Military leaders are opposed; it never happened.
Dycus said the Resurrection Act can only be used if civil law enforcement is unable to deal with the issue. And Banks said the president would first have to issue a statement calling for the violence to stop.
WHAT IS STATE PLANNING?
Many states have said they have no plans to activate their Guard Force for election missions, while some have already done so. Army brigade. General Robyn Blader, the assistant general of the Wisconsin National Guard, said on Wednesday state officials have not made a decision on whether to use members of the Guard as probes, which they did in three elections this year over the COVID-19 issue.
Major General Daryl L. Bohac, Nebraska’s aide who heads the National Guard, told reporters that his state did not see a prospect of federalization in the election. He said the governors were looking into contingency cases, “and they would be a focal point for any use of the National Guard for any civil turmoil or disturbance following the election.”
In Delaware and Washington state, the Guard members will provide election-related cybersecurity assistance. In Tennessee, the Security Forces are opening rehearsal facilities in rural areas for use as polling stations, but the Guard will not play a direct role.
And in Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine said he would do what is necessary.
“I wouldn’t hesitate if a mayor asked for that help,” he said, adding that if law enforcement asks for help, “we’ll have that discussion, and then they are. I can definitely deploy the National Guard. We hope that is not necessary.
Associated Press writers Mike Catalini in Trenton, NJ, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, and Randall Chase in Dover, Del., Contributed to this report.