“Seal Team November 6” Aims to Stare Down Voter Intimidation in Philadelphia

How a veterans’ group plans to enforce democracy on Election Day.

Call them “Seal Team November 6.” Special operations veterans, including former Navy Seals, Delta Force will be called back into action on Election Day to make certain there’s no voter intimidation at the polls.

Philadelphia is a prime target.

Former Navy Captain Benjamin Brink is leading the operation. “The nation saw the video of members of the Black Panthers in Philadelphia intimidating people trying to vote in 2008,” Brink told me when I interviewed him during my radio show on IQ 106.9. “We are going to try and make certain that nothing like that happens this year.”

Brink claims to have over a hundred former Army Rangers, Navy Seal, Delta Force, Green Berets and others who have volunteered for duty. The idea of Navy Seals and Black Panthers getting into it at a Philly polling site gives a whole new incentive for casting a ballot. “Our guys aren’t easily intimidated,” adds Brink.

Don’t let the bravado fool you. The mission, according to the Captain, is to observe and report, not to engage. “We are going to watch for intimidation, videotape it, if possible, and report it to the proper authorities.”

Benjamin Brink lives in the St. Louis area. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the video of the Black Panthers and the battle over voter ID laws that inspired him to start his clean election movement called “Get Out the Vet.” The group also works to make certain those serving overseas get ballots and that those ballots are counted. “There are men and women fighting right now so that we have the right to vote in free and fair elections,” reminds Brink. “We are just doing our part to make certain democracy works the way it is supposed to.”

Although Philadelphia will get special attention, the special-ops veterans will also be overseeing polling sites in cities like Cleveland, Miami and Las Vegas—big cities in swing states that have had a history of reports of voter intimidation.

But isn’t sending big, strapping, steely-eyed men with buzz cuts and special-ops tattoos, at the very least, visually hypocritical? Don’t these guards against voter intimidation intimidate people themselves? “That is not our purpose,” assures Brink. “Voters showing up to the polls probably won’t even notice they are there. These men are trained to be ghosts.”

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