Opinion

Armed agents and vote counting don’t mix

Who did United States Justice Department officials think they were fooling when they said federal law allows posting armed law enforcement agents at vote-counting locations?

To restate the question, what possible role would armed agents play in guaranteeing a thorough and accurate vote count? The answer: None. 

The New York Times last Wednesday quoted Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stating in no uncertain terms that “Elections are a state matter.” Federal officials, stated Healey, are not needed or wanted in locations where vote counting is underway in the wake of last Tuesday’s elections. 

Massachusetts voters picked President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. over President Donald J. Trump. Biden also won the popular vote nationally and more than the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to move into the White House in January. 

Those results are not enough to convince Trump that the time has come for him to concede and allow his administration to conduct a smooth presidential transition with Biden’s staff. 

Trump’s stock-in-trade is to foster an “us versus them” mentality casting himself in the role of standard bearer for right and might. His presidency has taken the country back to that dangerous time in the late 1930s prior to the nation’s entry into World War II that historian Jon Meacham described as one of the most polarized periods in American history. 

Depending on his mood, Trump disparages the federal government or ridicules the authority vested in the 50 states. But rational minds understand there is no need and no role for an armed federal presence at vote-counting locations. 

The law calls for fines, even imprisonment, for military officers who station troops at polling places. Justice officials claim the law does not apply to places where vote counting is underway after a polling place closed. 

Because the election didn’t go his way, Trump has already tarnished the reputations of thousands of election workers who did their job on Nov. 3. It’s time for him to concede the presidency to Biden. In places around the nation where vote counting continues or recounts are initiated, it is time for him to let hard-working, honest people do their jobs. 

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