DeSantis official says Justice Department can’t send monitors to 3 Florida counties

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

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

But Brad McVay, the Florida Department of State’s chief attorney, said in a letter released late Monday that such monitors would not be allowed inside polling places under Florida law.

McVay said Florida’s secretary of state’s office — which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis oversees — would instead send its own monitors to those three counties, which are among the most Democratic counties in Florida.

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

Justice Department sends Election Day observers to 64 jurisdictions

Although Florida law has an exception allowing law enforcement to enter polling places, McVay said Justice Department monitors are not eligible.

“In the absence of evidence regarding the need for federal intrusion or federal law that overrides Florida law, the presence of federal law enforcement at polling places would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election,” McVay wrote.

“None of the counties are currently subject to federal election-related consent decrees,” McVay added. “None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of linguistic 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 press release announcing the monitoring locations that it had observed local election proceedings across the country since 1965.

Republicans have waged a sustained campaign against alleged voter fraud over the past two years, despite little evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, and as threats against politicians, their families and election workers have increased across the board. the country.

Election officials in battleground states expect delayed results and protracted fighting once polls close Tuesday night.

Separately, Missouri officials said Monday they would not allow the Justice Department to conduct routine inspections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Voting Rights Act at offices in vote on election day.

Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft (right) told the Washington Post that the Justice Department’s presence amounted to an attempt to “intimidate a local election authority” and could “intimidate and suppress the vote “.

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

“This is not the Voting Rights Act. It’s the Americans with Disabilities Act. And after? They’re going to want to be in the election because they want to verify that the insulation for the building was bought from China in the 1970s? Give me a break,” Ashcroft said in a phone interview.

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

“I think we’ve already had lawsuits across the country against individuals around polling places,” Ashcroft said. “And they were told to stay away from them because they might intimidate voters.” Justice Department officials last observed Missouri’s 2016 election at polling places in St. Louis.

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

Jacob Bogage contributed to this report.


Washington

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