DOJ says armed federal agents allowed in ballot counting centers

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Critics say by letting armed agents into vote centers, Attorney General William Barr could be intimidating people.

The U.S. Department of Justice sent an email to federal prosecutors this week asserting that armed federal officers are legally allowed to be present at ballot-counting locations to investigate potential voter fraud. 

U.S. Code 592: Troops at Polls declares that “any groups or armed men at any place where a general or special election is held, unless such force be necessary to repel armed enemies of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; and be disqualified from holding any office of honor profit, or trust under the United States.” 

Experts allege that by allowing armed agents into vote centers, the Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General William Barr (above), could intimidate ballot counters, amounting to interference in the 2020 election process. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

However, according to reporting by The New York Times, the DOJ is interpreting the statute to mean that armed federal officers could go to polling stations and ballot counting locations after the election has ended. 

An email, sent at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the report, says that the law “does not prevent armed federal law enforcement persons from responding to, investigate, or prevent federal crimes at closed polling places or at other locations where votes are being counted.” 

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The email was sent by Richard P. Donoghue, the number-two official in the office of the deputy attorney general. 

Experts allege that the effort being made by the Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General William Barr, could intimidate ballot counters and amounts to interference in the election process. 

Barr, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, has echoed many of his sentiments alleging the presidential election would be and has been rife with fraud. 

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In September, Barr argued that mail-in voting would encourage U.S. Postal Service mail carriers to commit fraud. 

“There’s no more secret vote with mail-in vote. A secret vote prevents selling and buying votes. So now, we’re back in the business of selling and buying votes. Capricious distribution of ballots means (ballot) harvesting, undue influence, outright coercion, paying off a postman … ‘here’s a few hundred dollars, give me some of your ballots,’” the attorney general said, according to The Chicago Tribune.

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Other countries watching America’s presidential race disagreed.

Thursday morning, a German newspaper published a report that leads with “An international election observer mission to the US has concluded there was no evidence of election fraud, and Tuesday’s presidential vote was ‘competitive and well managed,’ despite ‘logistical challenges’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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