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US Pentagon reiterates that troops have no role in US election – that includes vets at polls

12:41  20 october  2020
12:41  20 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Pentagon officials are also acutely aware of the image of uniformed troops marching into American cities; they have dealt in recent weeks with rampant The Pentagon has issued “extensive guidance to our force” and given commanders leeway to properly safeguard their troops , Alyssa A. Farah, a

As election day approaches, polling companies will be trying to gauge the mood of the nation by asking voters which candidate they prefer. At the moment, polls in the battleground states look good for Joe Biden but things can change very quickly, especially when Donald Trump's involved.

WASHINGTON – Violence at polling places Nov. 3 and beyond is increasingly feared by election experts, members of Congress and voters themselves, as President Donald Trump casts doubt on the legitimacy of the vote and refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders have sought in varying degrees to shelter the military from the president's political battles. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been emphatic: Troops have no role in elections. His boss, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Congress the military will adhere to the Constitution.

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A secret Pentagon directive orders planning to try to destroy a militia group backed by Iran, but America’s top general in Iraq cautions of the risks. But the United States ’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran.

We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society," Mattis said in "Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate The respect, trust, and support our troops have earned from their fellow citizens is the foundation of

Concern about election-day violence escalated after 14 men were charged in domestic terror plots, including a plan to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan.

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Rep. Elissa Slotkin, (D-Mich.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the arrests and Trump declining at the Sept. 29 debate to denounce white supremacists and continuing to raise questions about the integrity of the election increases the possibility of violence.

"Unfortunately, I now have to think pretty seriously about making sure there's not intimidation at the polls, making sure if the president really doubles down after the election and contests the results with no cause that he doesn't do another call to action to some of these groups. I don't think we'll see wide-scale violence. But I wouldn't be surprised if we saw limited skirmishes," Slotkin said last week.

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“ We don’t engage a threat from that far out.” In Minnesota, National Guard troops are armed, but carry their ammunition in pouches, said Army Maj. He would not name the two states that have agreed to provide those troops . Houk told Military Times that the duration of the activations is unknown at this

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Intimidation at polling places by armed groups has the potential to be a serious problem in places like the Midwest, said Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A private security firm has been recruiting former special operations troops to patrol polling sites on election day in Minnesota, the Washington Post has reported. Though the law varies by state, any poll watchers typically have to be certified in advance or it is illegal.

There's no need or justification for vigilante security challenging voters at polling places, he said.

"It could be enormously volatile and dangerous," Mayer said.

The presence of armed veterans on election day is particularly troubling, said David Lapan, former spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department and a retired Marine.

"I have serious concerns with anyone who is armed and isn’t part of law enforcement on official duty, being around any polling places," Lapan said. "Former service members, many of whom likely saw elections overseas marred by violence, should know better than to be involved in this way. If they think this is a continuation of their oaths to support and defend the Constitution, they’re wrong."

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2020 Presidential Election Polls . This page displays the current 270toWin Polling Average for each state . Use the sort to view the polls in different ways. Select a state name to see its presidential voting history. Select the link below each chart to see all the polling detail for that state .

The US ’ Northern Command has sent teams of essential staff deep underground to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. On the surface, more than a million grunts won’t be quite as cocooned. Pentagon sends teams into MOUNTAIN BUNKERS as pandemic preparations go into full swing.

Donald Trump, Mark A. Milley sitting at a table: President Donald Trump, joined by from left, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, pauses as he speaks to media during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) © Carolyn Kaster, AP President Donald Trump, joined by from left, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, pauses as he speaks to media during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Federal law prohibits the deployment of federal troops or law enforcement agents to polling places, according to the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice.

Though Trump has repeatedly suggested the election is "rigged," that has been disputed by members of his own administration, including Attorney General William Barr, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

At the Pentagon, Esper, Milley and other officials have answered questions about their efforts to keep the military insulated from politics since June. That's when Milley and Esper followed Trump along a path that had been cleared through Lafayette Square near the White House of mostly peaceful protesters.

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US President Trump has given the Pentagon authority to independently set troop levels in Iraq and The move does not mean that the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria will change “nor does it A Morning Consult/Politico poll published in mid-April found that 31 percent of Americans believe the

The nation's highest-ranking military officer said the armed forces will have " no role " in the 2020 presidential election or resolving any disputes, because courts and Congress have that responsibility. Lately, Trump has also suggested sending law enforcement to polling places, too.

Milley later said his appearance there, in his combat uniform, was a mistake. And Esper said he regretted his reference to American cities as battle space that needed to be dominated after the mostly peaceful demonstrations that followed George Floyd's death after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis. Esper and Milley at the time did not invoke the Insurrection Act, which would have allowed federal troops to subdue domestic violence.

Milley has been left no doubt that troops be kept out of domestic politics, telling NPR last week that there is no role of the military in a contested election.

"If there's a disputed election, that'll be handled by Congress and the courts," Milley said. "And I'm quite confident that that will be the case this time around, as it has been several times before. This isn't the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election. And if there is, it'll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there."

Esper, in a written response to Slotkin and Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., another member of the Armed Services Committee, had a less forceful response to their question about military action abroad to "distract the American public" before the election.

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"Throughout our nation’s history, the U.S. military has been a force for good," Esper wrote. "The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war, defend our nation, and protect the security of our nation. The Department of Defense remains committed to carrying out this mission, consistent with the Constitution and the law."

Slotkin said she did not find reassurance in Esper's words. She worried that Trump could mount a military operation with Iran or China to stir up patriotism.

That's still "a live issue" within weeks of the election, she said.

A YouGov poll this month of 1,505 voters found that 56% said they expect to see "an increase in violence as a result of the election."

Election officials are enforcing buffer zones that prohibit electioneering within a certain distance of polling places, depending on the state, and reassuring voters.

“We have a strict and strong plan of protection in place, but we’re also being very, very mindful of making sure no voter is fearful of showing up, and communicating to them we’ve got this,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “We’ll protect them, we’ll protect their right to vote, and we’ll use every resource and tool at our disposal in order to do so.”

The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, based at the Georgetown University Law Center, issued fact sheets for each state explaining what to do if armed individuals are near a polling site.

What you can do:

  1. Have your phone charged and document what you see
    1. Are they armed? Do they have insignia, signs or banners?
    2. Are they stopping or talking to people? Are those people leaving after the encounter?
    3. Do they have a leader?
  2. Call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

Keep reading:

Election Day is in 7 days. Here's when we might know a winner and how each candidate could claim victory

  Election Day is in 7 days. Here's when we might know a winner and how each candidate could claim victory As officials count absentee ballots in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, the Sun Belt could have a fuller picture on election night.More than 62 million people had already voted early as of Monday, either in-person or by mail, and the figure could reach more than 85 million before Election Day. Overall turnout might surpass 150 million.

  • Election officials preparing for voter intimidation tactics
  • Trump 'Army' of poll watchers could intimidate voters, election officials warn
  • 'The country's lost its mind': Polls warning of civil war show deep election divides
  • Black voting rights still challenged 150 years later

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pentagon reiterates that troops have no role in US election – that includes vets at polls

How long it could take to count the vote this year, explained .
Some swing states are expected to tally results relatively quickly. Others not so much.The pandemic and historic levels of mail-in voting mean that we have reason to expect that certain states will be very, very slow to count their votes this year — while others will be at least relatively quicker.

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