Florida fights DOJ effort to monitor polling sites
Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo via Saul Loeb for AFP)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to block monitors from the Department of Justice from gaining access to some polling places.

The department announced Monday it would send federal monitors to 64 jurisdictions -- including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties -- across the country to ensure civil rights laws were upheld, but the Florida Department of State sent a letter later that same day warning those monitors would not be allowed inside polling places and the state would instead send its own, reported the Washington Post.

“Florida statutes list the people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place,’” wrote Brad McVay, chief counsel for Florida's Department of State. “Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list.”

The statute lists an exemption allowing law enforcement to enter polling places, but McVay argued that Justice Department monitors did not qualify.

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“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. None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.”

Florida secretary of state Cord Byrd, a DeSantis appointee, said the DOJ request deviated from past years, including 2020 under President Donald Trump, but he said those monitors remained outside polling sites.

“This is not to be confrontational in any way,” Byrd said. “They sent a letter to the counties asking for permission to be in the polling places. We told them that under state law, that is not permitted, and we asked them to respect state law, and that they can go there and do their job, but they have to do that job outside of the polling place.”

The Department of Justice confirmed it received the letter but has declined to comment.