With all the talk of Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois and other militias, more than a few of us are worried our election could be disrupted by armed Trump supporters or militia groups.
Fortunately, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection has created a guide that covers each of our state’s particular laws. For those of us in Florida, here is what we can do in the unlikely event you encounter “a militia” at your polling place.
In Florida, a legal “militia” refers to residents called by the state or government to defend the United States or an individual state. For a militia to be legal in Florida, militias must be called forth by the state. A militia that “activates” itself is illegal. Armed groups that wear military style uniforms, purport to have authority to engage in military and law enforcement functions such as protecting property and engaging in crowd control without being called, are illegal. Even groups of armed individuals engaging in unauthorized militia activities who do not consider themselves part of a militia, can be considered “illegal militia members”
According to the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, “All 50 states prohibit private, unauthorized militias and military units from engaging in activities reserved for the state militia, including law enforcement activities. Some, including Florida, also prohibit paramilitary activity “during or in furtherance of a civil disorder.”
So what do we do if we see armed groups near a polling place or voter registration drive?
First, according to the institute you must document what you see:
➢ What are the armed people doing?
➢ What are the armed people wearing?
➢ Are they carrying firearms? If so, what type? If not, are they carrying other types of
➢ Are they wearing insignia? If so, what does it say or look like?
➢ Are they bearing signs or flags?
➢ Do they seem to be patrolling like a law enforcement officer might do?
➢ Do they seem to be coordinating their actions?
➢ Do they have a leader?
➢ Are they stopping or talking to people outside of their group?
➢ Do they appear to be provoking or threatening violence? If so, what are they doing
➢ Are people turning away from the polling station after seeing or speaking with them?
Second, call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to report what you see.
You can go to Georgetown Law’s website and read the complete article for Florida here
Or you can look up the article for your own state here.