Bracing for possible civil unrest on Election Day, the Justice Department is planning to station officials in a command center at FBI headquarters to coordinate the federal response to any disturbances or other problems with voting that may arise across the country, officials familiar with the matter said.
Though the Justice Department monitors elections every year to ensure voters can cast their ballots, officials’ concerns are more acute this year that toxic politics, combined with the potential uncertainty surrounding vote tallies, could lead to violent demonstrations or clashes between opposing factions, those familiar with the matter said.
Preparations have been underway in recent weeks to deal with a wide range of possible problems, the officials said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
President Trump has declined to say that he will accept the election results, while making exaggerated claims about voter fraud and urging his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” The summer was marked by sometimes violent unrest — with people at protests for racial justice periodically clashing with far-right groups — and officials fear the election could spark new rounds of demonstrations.
“The Department of Justice takes election security and integrity seriously, and this year is no exception,” said Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman.