MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An official with the Trump campaign is looking for retired police officers to be poll challengers on Election Day.
The ask was made to the Minneapolis Police Union. Union officials then put out the call for retired officers to serve as “eyes and ears” at polling sites in problem areas across the city on Tuesday.
That has many asking what exactly a poll challenger does, and what they are and aren’t allowed to do.
In the email sent by senior legal adviser and director of Election Day operations for the Trump Campaign, William Willingham asked for 20 to 30 former officers to work four- to eight hour-shifts in problem areas as poll challengers.
The email reads: “We don’t necessarily want our poll challengers to look intimidating, they cannot carry a weapon in the polls due to state law. We just want people who won’t be afraid in rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations.”
Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, sent the request to federation members asking them to please share and email him if they were willing to assist.
Secretary of State Steve Simon says Minnesota has laws that limit the role of poll challengers on Election Day.
“You cant just show up and say, ‘I’m here to be a poll watcher or challenger,'” he said. “The law is really clear on poll challengers. Every major political party gets one just one and they have to designate that person in writing, and once the person gets there to be a challenger they face some restrictions. They can’t come within 6 feet of a voter. They cant speak to a voter.”
Simon says poll challengers can only act if they know the person whose eligibility they are questioning.
“It cant be based on a whim or a guess or a hunch, a bad vibe or a feeling. It has to be something you know or you believe you know about that particular individual,” Simon said.
Police officers cannot be stationed near polling places unless called upon by election workers to help.
In a statement, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said, “We will remain apolitical in our service … and are focused singularly on protecting our residents’ most sacred democratic right — the right to safely cast their ballot without intimidation or interference.”
A call to hire armed para-militia at polling sites in Minnesota was blocked by a federal district court judge Thursday. The judge prohibits the groups from deploying armed agents within 2,500 feet of any polling place during early voting or on Election Day.