01:51 - Source: CNN
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Washington CNN  — 

More than a dozen secretaries of state slammed a rider attached to legislation to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security that would allow Secret Service to be dispatched to polling places nationwide during a federal election.

“This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers,” according to the letter, which was obtained by CNN.

In the letter, which was sent Friday to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, the 19 secretaries of state write that they believe the proposal is “unprecedented and shocking.”

“Secretaries of State across the country agree that there is no discernable need for federal Secret Service agents to intrude, at the discretion of the president, who may also be a candidate in that election, into the thousands of citadels where democracy is enshrined,” they wrote.

The legislation has already passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, but it was not included in the Senate bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week.

When asked for a comment, the White House referred CNN to the US Secret Service.

The Secret Service responded Monday to the Boston Globe, which first reported the story, saying the provision was “grossly mischaracterized.”

“The only time armed Secret Service personnel would be at a polling place would be to facilitate the visiting of one of our protectees while they voted,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

CNN has reached out to the House Appropriations Committee for comment on why the rider was included and has not yet received a response.

The full Senate still needs to approve the legislation, and then the House and Senate versions of the bills must be reconciled before going to President Donald Trump for approval.