Minnesota election officials say they’re working with law enforcement to ensure voters won’t face intimidation at polling locations next month, responding to reports that a private security company is recruiting U.S. special operations forces veterans to protect the polls from “Antifas” intent on “destroying the election sites.”
Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, posted a job listing this week calling for “security positions in Minnesota during the November Election and beyond to protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction,” according to a Washington Post report.
Minnesota election rules prohibit private security or other related individuals or groups from entering polling places, said Secretary of State Steve Simon in a statement Friday afternoon. Only one challenger per major political party is allowed inside, and anyone else who isn’t voting or working at the poll site must stay 100 feet away.
“We are actively working with state and federal law enforcement to ensure that these laws are strictly enforced, as they always have been,” said Simon. “In addition, our 30,000 election judges at nearly 3,000 polling places are well-trained on those laws. Any outside effort to supplement election judges or local law enforcement is counterproductive, unwelcome, and possibly unlawful.”
A spokesman for Atlas Aegis didn’t immediately respond to comment. But on the company’s Facebook page, a job listing solicits applicants for “armed security” positions in Minnesota during and after the November election “to protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction.”
The positions will “last well beyond the elections,” according to the advertisement, with 15 to 30 hours of work per week and a salary and per-diem reimbursement totaling $910 a day. Experience in U.S. Special Operations Forces is mandatory, according to the listing.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released a statement asking the company to cease and desist, emphasizing that their presence at polling places would violate state and federal law.
“I join the Secretary of State and election authorities in strongly discouraging this unnecessary interference in Minnesota’s elections, which we have not asked for and do not welcome,” said Ellison.
“Minnesota has a history of running the safest and most secure elections in America,” Ellison continued. “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.”
In recent months, President Donald Trump has stoked fear, without evidence, of a grave impending threat of massive voter fraud.
“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” Trump said at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, before suggesting he may not accept the results of the election if he loses.
In a recent video on the Team Trump Facebook page, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., put out a call for people to enlist in the “ARMY FOR TRUMP’s election security operation,” in which he suggests, also without proof, “the radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father.”
“We need every able-bodied man, woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation,” he said. “We need you to help us watch them. Not just on Election Day, but also during early voting and at the counting boards.”
The Atlas Aegis advertisement doesn’t elaborate on why it’s recruiting only for Minnesota.
In May, following the death of George Floyd in custody of Minneapolis police, civil unrest led to massive protests and rioting, including the burning of a police station.
Civil unrest and protest demonstrations have persisted in Minneapolis this summer, including this past week, when Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged with murdering Floyd, was released on bail pending his trial.
Staff writer Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.