Minnesota attorney general says company suspected of recruiting private security to watch polling places on Election Day was misinformed

Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison speaks during the election night event held by the Democratic Party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. AP Photo/Hannah Foslien
  • A Tennessee-based company suspected of commissioning armed poll-watchers in Minnesota was under investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
  • The company, Atlas Aegis, was accused of looking for people “to protect election polls.”
  • The attorney general’s office said on Friday that Atlas Aegis company officials misunderstood a request from a separate Minnesota company that was seeking contractors to protect private property, not polling places.
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A Tennessee-based company accused of recruiting armed men to watch polling places in Minnesota on Election Day caught the attention of the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison.

It turns out, the effort was a misunderstanding, Ellison announced in a press release on Friday.

The company, Atlas Aegis, had responded to a request from a Minnesota company seeking private security contractors to protect private property in the state. According to Ellison, that company never indicated it needed private citizens to “protect election polls,” and that Atlas Aegis used that language of its own volition when reaching out to its network.

Ellison said his office received written assurance from Atlas Aegis that it will not send private security to polling locations, according to the press release.

“Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have. One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters,” Ellison said.

“I’m holding Atlas Aegis to account for their misstatements about recruiting security for polling places in Minnesota that potentially frightened Minnesota voters. They won’t be doing it again and will not be anywhere in Minnesota before, during, or after Election Day.”

Minnesota state and federal laws “prohibit intimidating or interfering with voters and operating private armed forces in Minnesota,” Ellison said.

“I want to make it crystal clear to anyone who is even thinking about intimidating voters that I will not hesitate to enforce the laws against it to the fullest extent,” he said.