A Tennessee security firm's attempt to recruit ex-special forces personnel to monitor Twin Cities polling sites has caught the attention of Minnesota's top law enforcement official.
On Friday, Attorney General Keith Ellison responded to a Washington Post report that the firm Atlas Aegis is seeking armed security guards for Election Day, telling BringMeTheNews that he and Secretary of State Steve Simon are "strongly discouraging this unnecessary interference in Minnesota’s elections, which we have not asked for and do not welcome."
A now-unavailable job posting on Facebook sought people to "protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction," saying the job could "last well beyond the elections with 15 to 30 days of work" — due to the threat of "antifas."
In his statement to us, Ellison clarified that such activities at polling places would violate both state and federal laws, and warned that the state would "use every resource available to us and all the power of the law if we have to" as a defense against any election interference:
Federal and state law are both clear: no one may interfere with or intimidate a voter at a polling place. The presence of armed outside contractors at polling places would constitute intimidation and violate the law. I request this company cease and desist any planning and stop making any statements about engaging in this activity.
Minnesota has a history of running the safest and most secure elections in America. Minnesotans have every reason to expect that the same will happen this year. We don't expect to have to enforce our laws against voter intimidation, but we will use every resource available to us and all the power of the law if we have to.
Anthony Caudle, co-founder and chairman of Atlas Aegis, told the Post that his firm was hired by a "consortium of business owners and concerned citizens" in Minnesota who are purportedly worried about an Election-Night repeat of this summer's rioting and destruction following the death of George Floyd.
The contractors would be "there for protection, that’s it,” he told the paper. “They’re there to make sure that the antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites."
The report comes amid worries of potential voter intimidation across the country, with President Donald Trump having suggested that military and law enforcement personnel could guard polling places against voter fraud — despite evidence that voter fraud is rare.
Concerns about the security of the election have also been stoked by the fact that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence refuse to say if they'll accept the results of the vote and commit to a peaceful transfer of power if they're not re-elected.