Other’s Opinion: Voting: Armed “security” at polling sites disturbing

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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The Free Press, Mankato

Minnesota election officials and law enforcement are alarmed after learning a company has been posting job listings calling for “security positions in Minnesota during the November Election and beyond to protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction.”

Tennessee-based Atlas Aegis is recruiting people with U.S. special operations military experience to, they say, protect the polls from “antifas” intent on “destroying the election sites.”

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The idea of armed non-law enforcement people inserted into the democratic election system should alarm everyone.

The far right, with President Donald Trump in the lead, has continued to encourage and defend armed militias toting loaded firearms at protests and refuses to condemn violent white supremacist groups. Hiring special forces “security” to supposedly protect polling sites and neighborhoods is another step toward creating more turmoil and igniting violence.

“Antifa” has been a favored rallying point for Trump and others who frame the ideology as a far-left threat that is at the root of all looting, violence and criminal activity. But even the director of the FBI notes that antifa is not a group or organization but an ideology.

Anyone, far right or far left, who uses violence or commits crimes must be condemned and every effort made to bring them to justice.

But Trump and his followers are inflating the danger and influence of the antifa movement, while defending armed militias and white supremacists, to throw fuel on the fire caused by recent social unrest.

Minnesota election officials are working with law enforcement to prepare polling officials for the possibility of private agencies sending hired guns to polling sites. State law allows only one challenger per major political party inside polling locations.

That, of course, doesn’t stop those who claim they are there to protect against antifa from congregating and deploying near polling sites, with the clear intent of intimidating certain voters and fomenting discord.

The growing push to inject armed radicals into society and the polls leads to less safety and more violence. There is a reason those who were recently arrested for hatching a plot to kidnap and allegedly execute Michigan’s Democrat governor felt emboldened enough to act.

Minnesota has a stellar history of running the safest and most secure elections in the country. Unnecessary interference in the state’s elections by private security agencies or armed citizens who aim to “defend” right-wing ideology is a dangerous escalation of tensions.