Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration told Democrat President Joe Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland to pound sand over attempts by the Department of Justice to interfere in Florida’s elections.
The DOJ was warned that federal Election Day poll monitors are “not permitted” inside polling places under Florida law.
DeSantis said Florida will send its own monitors to “ensure there is no interference in the voting process.”
Brad McVay, general counsel to Florida’s Department of State, told the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in a letter that “Section 102.031(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes lists the people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place. Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list.
“Even if they could qualify as ‘law enforcement’ absent some evidence concerning the need for federal intrusion, or some federal statute that preempts Florida law, the presence of federal law enforcement inside polling places would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election.”
The DeSantis administration is attempting to block Department of Justice election monitors from gaining access to polling places in South Florida, saying that the federal government’s involvement would be “counterproductive” and in violation of state law.https://t.co/roJok84OQD
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 8, 2022
The full letter is below:
Earlier today, the Florida Department of State received copies of your letters to Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in which you seem to indicate that the Department of Justice will send monitors inside polling places in these counties.
We also understand you sent a similar letter to Palm Beach County. But Department of Justice monitors are not permitted under Florida law.
Section102.031(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes lists the people who “may enter any polling room or polling place.”
Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list. Even if they could qualify as “law enforcement” under section 102.031(3)(a)6. of the Florida Statutes, absent some evidence concerning the need for federal intrusion, or some federal statute that preempts Florida law, the presence of federal law enforcement inside polling places would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election.
Indeed, your letters do not detail the need for federal monitors in these counties.
None of the counties are currently subject to any election-related federal consent decrees.
None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.
Your letters simply provide a non-exhaustive list of federal elections statutes as the basis for this action without pointing to any specific statutory authorization.
When asked for specific authorization during our phone call this evening, you did not provide any.
Accordingly, the Florida Department of State invokes its authority under section101.58(2) of the Florida Statutes to send its own monitors to the three targeted jurisdictions.
These monitors will ensure that there is no interference with the voting process.
You have my cell phone number.
Please let me know how best to coordinate with your team as Florida works towards another smooth election day.