- Feb 6, 2014
DeSantis official says Justice Dept. can’t send monitors to 3 Florida countiesThe DeSantis administration is attempting to block Department of Justice election monitors from gaining access to polling places in South Florida, saying in a letter that the federal government’s involvement would be “counterproductive” and in violation of state law.
On Monday, the Justice Department announced that it would send federal monitors to 64 jurisdictions nationwide to monitor how elections are being conducted. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were all slated to receive federal monitors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
But Brad McVay, the chief counsel for the Florida Department of State, said in a letter issued late Monday that those monitors would not be allowed inside polling places under Florida law.
McVay said the Florida 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-leaning counties in Florida.
“Florida statutes list the people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place,’” McVay wrote. “Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list.”
The Justice Department said Tuesday that it had received the DeSantis administration’s letter and still has election monitors stationed outside polling locations in Florida.
Although Florida law has an exception allowing law enforcement to enter polling sites, McVay said Justice Department monitors do not qualify.
“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,” McVay wrote.
“None of the counties are currently subject to any election-related federal consent decrees,” McVay added. “None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.”