DeSantis Derails Federal Monitors Being Placed Inside Polling Stations

The DeSantis administration told Biden’s Department of Justice late Monday that federal poll monitors are “not permitted” in Florida polling places on Election Day, and that Florida will send its own monitors to “make sure there is no interference in the voting process.”

On Monday, the DOJ put out a list of the 64 places in 24 states where it plans to send lawyers on Election Day to “monitor for compliance with federal voting rights laws.” Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach are all counties in Florida that are on that list.

In a letter sent Monday, Brad McVay, the general counsel for Florida’s Department of State, said that the DOJ “seemed to indicate” that these monitors would be put inside polling places. He said, though, that you can’t do that.

Section 102.031(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes lists the people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place,'” wrote McVay.”Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list.”

Even if they could qualify as ‘law enforcement’” McVay warned, “… 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 DOJ’s announcement that it will send out poll watchers is in line with what it does every time there is an election, but this year there will be a noticeable increase in the number of jurisdictions covered. In 2018, monitors were sent to 25 different places, and in 2020, they will be sent to 44 different places. In 2016, the last year of Obama’s term, the DOJ sent monitors to 67 different places.

The DOJ says that the monitors’ main job will be to “enforce the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, such as the Voting Rights Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Civil Rights Acts.”

The department said, “The division’s Disability Rights Section enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that persons with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote.”  The division’s Criminal Section will enforce “federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.”

In his letter, McVay also said that the DOJ had not explained “why federal monitors are needed” in the three Florida counties.

None of the counties are currently subject to any election-related federal consent decrees,” McVay wrote in his letter. “None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.”

McVay said, “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.” He also said that during a phone call between his office and the DOJ on Monday, he asked for “specific statutory authorization” but did not get it.

McVay ended by telling the DOJ that the Florida Department of State “invokes its authority” under a Florida law that says, “Upon the written direction of the Secretary of State, any employee of the Department of State having expertise in the matter of concern to the Secretary of State shall have full access to all premises, records, equipment, and staff of the supervisor of elections,” and will send its own monitors to the three targeted jurisdictions.

These monitors will ensure that there is no interference with the voting process,” McVay added.

The DOJ has yet to comment.


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