US election night could spark mass protests and violence near the...

As you stroll through the American capital, Washington DC, the city seems to be preparing for a riot rather than election parties.

Shops are stepping on their windows, authorities are preparing their defenses against violent demonstrations, and a wall against ascension is being erected around the White House.

Tourists who were once able to stand in front of the White House fence to have a clear view of the historic residence have been pushed back into the surrounding streets, and the view is blocked by barricades and a heavy police presence.

The President’s executive office has just gotten stronger with layers of high-chain fences, concrete vehicle barriers, and a security area that is constantly expanding.

Election night is only a few days away and the mood in the city – and in the country – is tense.

City officials and law enforcement officials prepare for two fearful scenarios: clashes on the streets and in polling stations.

A construction worker looks at wooden planks on a Washington DC street

A construction worker looks at wooden planks on a Washington DC street

Washington DC businesses are at their windows a few days before the US election.(ABC News: Niall Lenihan)

The wall around the White House was erected in July after the death of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests against police treatment of unarmed blacks.

Many protests turned into civil unrest and looting and, in some cases, shootings.

Police officers, their vehicles and buildings have been attacked, and police officers themselves have been charged with brutality in a variety of incidents.

Often problems came from outside agitators, with anti-government and law enforcement agencies in a confusing, toxic mess that adds to current concerns about election night.

The secret service is preparing for violence

Nowhere is security likely to be tighter than in Washington DC, where ’s campaign promises an election victory party at the Trump International Hotel, five blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The capital has more than two dozen law enforcement agencies with overlapping jurisdictions.

The exterior of the Trump Hotel in Washington DC with US flags and metal fences around the entrance

The exterior of the Trump Hotel in Washington DC with US flags and metal fences around the entrance

The Trump Hotel in Washington DC was fenced off in anticipation of the president’s election night event.(ABC News: Emily Clark)

US intelligence is responsible for protecting the President and his family, the White House and those around him, and its agents will coordinate with a wide range of law enforcement officials.

Officials from the US Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police Department, National Parks Police and other agencies, along with local emergency services, will be part of the planning section.

Former intelligence veteran Don Mihalek said the violent protests in Washington DC and other US cities this year had taught law enforcement officers to prepare for an escalation in protests.

“Unfortunately, the expectation of violence is an integral part of the situation today. Whether and when there will be unrest is always a question, ”said Mihalek.

“If they do occur, the officials must expect that they will be attacked by rioters. How are you going to deal with it? It is the focus of every planning. “

He is not interested in Americans exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully.

“My concern is the reaction of radical protesters who undermine our democracy and use violence, burn buildings and attack law enforcement agencies. You are armed and ready to attack police officers. “


He expects wide roadblocks around the Trump Hotel and the White House and no tolerance from police officers for armed demonstrators or militias.

Washington DC is one of only a handful of US jurisdictions that prohibit the open carrying of guns.

“You would take your life in hand that night.”

Fear of violence at the polling station

There are also concerns about the potential for confrontation or attempts to intimidate voters when trying to cast their ballots, especially in swing states where the number of votes can be extremely close.

President Trump has urged followers to “take the polls and look very carefully” while his campaign posted a video asking them to look for any telltale signs of suspicious behavior.

“You’re looking at body language,” the video says.

“If you see a confused look on a voter’s face, or a confused look on a poller’s face, or a delay in the process, it’s your lead.”

Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of State for Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush, mocked the video during an interview with CNN.

“I think this is utter nonsense. This is an effort to create disruption and intimidation, ”Chertoff said.

As the president prepares for the possibility of a controversial election, current and former security officials, including Mr Chertoff, seek to build voter confidence.

“The good news is that many jurisdictions are aware of these efforts and, in many cases, find these efforts violate state law, and they are prepared to take action against people who misbehave at polling stations,” he said .

However, a recent poll found that less than a quarter of Americans believe the elections will be free and fair.

Among respondents, 50 percent of Trump supporters say the elections are not fair, and 37 percent of Biden supporters agree.

There are still hundreds of lawsuits in court challenging electoral rules across the country on the home stretch, yet can help determine the election winner.

When cases go to the Supreme Court, they are decided by a new Conservative majority of Supreme Court justices, with President Trump’s youngest candidate, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, re-elected to the bench.

Electoral judges will keep watch

Election judge Julie Hughes will be among the hundreds of thousands of authorized workers deployed across the United States to ensure voting at polling stations on November 3rd.

A long line of people standing outside a building near a sign that reads

A long line of people standing outside a building near a sign that reads

Judges will be at polling stations in the US on election day to ensure voters feel safe voting.(ABC News: Emily Olson)

She has worked in developing democracy abroad for more than 30 years, including in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Egypt, Iraq and Libya.

In 2013, Egypt sentenced her and other activists in absentia to a five-year prison term for their work in promoting democracy.

But this US presidential election marks the first time her overseas friends have called her to ask if she is okay.

“I used to think democracy was that inevitable force in the universe, but democracy is a lifelong struggle to maintain representative government,” she said.

Ms. Hughes expects voters to intimidate them at some stations.

In her state of Maryland, an equal number of electoral judges who identify with the political parties are run for election, and while they are not actually “judges” they are asked to handle minor disputes.

Cases of violence or allegations of election rigging would be immediately referred to the local judge who would decide what response is needed.

President Trump has been sounding the alarm since he was Trump candidate in 2016.

After the election, he made unsubstantiated allegations that millions of people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton to explain why he lost the referendum to her.

When he took office, he set up a White House commission to investigate electoral fraud. However, the commission was abruptly closed after it was found there was no evidence of widespread voter corruption.

“For the first time we have a President of the United States who says our elections are fraudulent and the results are rigged, which calls into question one of the fundamental principles of democracy,” said longtime Republican electoral lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg.

“There is a requirement that you think the President of the United States must make that statement in order to have evidence of it, and that is not there.”

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