New Mexico’s Secretary of State is leading a national charge against President Trump’s Administration over a new proposal some believe would let the president directly assign Secret Service agents to voting centers and polling places.
“It’s pretty alarming,” said Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico’s Secretary of State. “It does raise a lot of concerns and questions for us.”
Toulouse Oliver has joined at least 20 other U.S. secretaries of state to oppose the proposed rule change, which she believes could be abused by the Executive Branch.
“It does give the president unfettered authority to be able to just randomly assign agents to polling locations,” said Toulouse Oliver.
The proposal is part of a bill to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security.
In a recent letter to U.S. Senate leadership, aiming to kill the proposal, Toulouse Oliver wrote, “Section 4012 allows Secret Service personnel unlimited access to polling places pursuant to the President’s direction.”
The U.S. Secret Service disputes that claim. The agency has responded to concerns, saying its aim was more clearly define the rules and to legally allow agents protect specific individuals inside public voting places.
However, some election officials believe the rule will be used to allow federal authorities to patrol polling places based on the President’s choosing.
President Trump launched a voter fraud commission in 2017 after making allegations that he lost the popular vote to fraud. However, President Trump never provided evidence toward the claims.
Toulouse Oliver says allowing armed protection of certain individuals in polling places has never been a problem and she believes the rule will be used at the President’s will to scare voters.
“(Armed law enforcement) can be disenfranchising to voters and it also gives us concern about the independence of the process, when the President has his personal protection agency physically within polling locations,” said Toulouse Oliver.
Toulouse Oliver and at least 20 other Democrat and Republican secretaries of state have now written U.S. Senate leadership in an effort to get the rule thrown out of the Homeland Security reauthorization bill.
The bill still needs to go to a vote in the Senate, then the House of Representatives and there’s no timeline on when that could happen.
New Mexicans have opinions on armed guards at the polls.
“I think it might be a little intimidating to some people, it may sway their vote one way or another,” said Chris, an Albuquerque voter.
“Once (armed guards are) brought in to play, you’re going to feel intimidated and you might not, you know, want to vote,” said another voter who spoke to KRQE News 13 on Wednesday.