Michigan's AG is worried some local sheriffs won't stop voter intimidation at the polls


It is probably a sign of a poorly functioning civil society that high-ranking government official is so concerned about local sheriffs not stepping up to make sure polling places are safe and welcoming for prospective voters that his office has promised to send in state troopers to do so.

It's probably a bad sign, but somehow it's where we're at — specifically, in Michigan, where Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) has threatened to send in state police if local sheriffs are unwilling to enforce laws meant to prevent voter intimidation.

"Every place in the state of Michigan, there will be law enforcement that believe that voters need to be protected," Nessel said during an interview for Showtime's The Circus filmed last week.

The threat to supercede local sheriffs comes as Michigan prepares to ban the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of polling places, county clerks' offices, and other voting-related locations — a move designed to ensure that "all eligible Michigan citizens can freely exercise their fundamental right to vote without fear of threats, intimidation, or harassment" Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, also a Democrat, explained last week.

And there seems to be reason to believe that the order may indeed be defied by local law enforcement. To wit: "An order is an order and, quite frankly, is unenforceable," Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy told The Detroit News. "They have no authority to supersede law."

Concerns over in-person voter intimidation have ratcheted up in recent days, particularly after President Trump urged his supporters to "go into the polls and watch very carefully" for fraud, even after his followers effectively prevented voters from casting their ballots last month by staging a MAGA rally outside a polling station in Virginia.

Nessel also seemed keenly aware of the recent interview with Sheriff Dar Leaf, of Michigan's Barry County, during which Leaf pointedly offered a meager defense of — and at some points seemingly gave his tacit approval of — the local militia members accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

"If you have a county sheriff that seems to be sympathetic to any of these organizations and we think they're not going to enforce the laws, then we'll get somebody else who will: the Michigan State Police," Nessel explained during the interview.

Michigan State Police spokesperson Shanon Banner was circumspect about the specifics of Nessel's statement, but told The Detroit News that while she "won’t get into speculation about enforcement action [...] the Michigan State Police does have statewide jurisdiction."