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Florida fights back after DOJ sends election monitors to 3 major Florida counties — and the DOJ complies
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Florida fights back after DOJ sends election monitors to 3 major Florida counties — and the DOJ complies

Florida swiftly rebuked the Justice Department for sending election monitors to the Sunshine State, definitively warning that monitors would not be permitted inside Florida polling places.

What is the background?

On the eve of Election Day, the DOJ announced it would send election monitors to 64 jurisdictions across 24 states.

"Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Division has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters," a press release said. "Monitors will include personnel from the Civil Rights Division and from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices."

Three of the monitored jurisdictions are located in Florida: Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County.

How did Florida respond?

Brad McVay, general counsel for the Florida Department of State, responded to the news by informing the DOJ that its plan violates Florida law.

McVay explained:

But Department of Justice monitors are not permitted inside a polling place under Florida law. 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” 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.

Moreover, the DOJ did not explain why it selected those jurisdictions for election monitoring. According to McVay, none of the Florida jurisdictions have been accused of violating any election laws.

"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," McVay said. "When asked for specific authorization during our phone call this evening, you did not provide any."

Instead, McVay informed the DOJ that Florida will use its own election monitors.

Anything else?

The DOJ confirmed it received the letter but is not commenting.

Meanwhile, the DOJ is apparently complying with Florida law. DOJ election monitors in Broward County stayed outside polling locations on Tuesday, CNN reported.

Election officials in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County also confirmed they would not enter polling locations.

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