DeSantis official says DOJ can’t send observers to 3 Florida counties

DeSantis official says DOJ can’t send observers to 3 Florida counties


The DeSantis administration is trying to block Justice Department election monitors from gaining access to polling places in South Florida, saying in the letter that the federal government’s involvement would be “counterproductive” and a violation of state law.

On Monday, the Ministry of Justice announced that it would send federal observers to 64 jurisdictions across the country to monitor how elections are conducted. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were all scheduled to receive federal observers from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

But Brad McVeigh, chief counsel for the Florida Department of State, said in a letter published late Monday that those observers will not be allowed to enter polling places under Florida law.

McVay said the Florida Secretary of State’s office — which is overseen by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — will instead send its own monitors to those three counties, which are among Florida’s most Democratic-leaning counties.

“Florida statutes list people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place,'” McVay wrote. “Department of Justice personnel are not included in the list.”

Department of Justice sending election day surveillance to 64 jurisdictions

Although Florida law has an exception that allows police to enter polling places, McVay said Justice Department monitors do not meet the requirements.

“Absent some evidence of a need for federal intrusion, or some federal statute preempting Florida law, the presence of federal law enforcement at the polls would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election,” McVay wrote.

“None of the districts are currently subject to federal election-related decrees,” McVay added. “No county has been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or the elderly or disabled.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the Justice Department said in a news release announcing the monitoring sites it has has observed local election procedures throughout the country since 1965.

The Republicans started continuous campaign against alleged voter fraud in the last two years, despite scanty evidence fraud in the 2020 election, and how threats against politicians, their families and election workers have grown across the country.

Election officials in battleground states expect delayed results and protracted battles after polls close Tuesday night.

Separately, Missouri officials on Friday denied a Justice Department request to conduct routine inspections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Voting Rights Act at polling places on Election Day. Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R) echoed that sentiment at Monday’s meeting.

He told the Washington Post that the presence of the Department of Justice represents an intention to “harass local electoral authorities” and could “intimidate and suppress voting.”

Ashcroft and Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer (R) told federal officials they would not be allowed to observe the polls Tuesday.

“This is not the Voting Rights Act. This is the Americans with Disabilities Act. What’s next? They will want to be on the ballot because they want to check if the insulation in the building was bought from China in the 1970s? Let me go,” Ashcroft said in a phone interview.

He compared Justice Department officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri to “boot thugs” and individuals in Arizona who were seen patrolling ballot boxes with firearms.

“I think we’ve already had lawsuits across the country involving individuals at the polls,” Ashcroft said. “And they were told they had to stay away from them because they could intimidate voters.” Officials of the Ministry of Justice last observed the 2016 Missouri election at the polls in St. Louis.

FBI special agents who serve as election crime coordinators will also be on duty at the bureau’s 56 field offices to receive voting-related complaints from the public, according to the Justice Department. Employees of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will also man a hotline all day on Election Day, answering calls from people who spot possible violations of federal voting rights laws.

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