DeSantis official says Justice Dept. can’t send monitors to 3 Florida counties

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The DeSantis administration is trying to block Justice Department election officials from accessing polling places in South Florida, saying the state’s involvement would be “unhelpful” and a violation of state law.

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that it would send government officials to 64 states around the world to monitor the conduct of elections. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were all set to receive federal inspectors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

But Brad McVay, general counsel for the Florida Department of State, said in a letter late Monday that the inspectors are not allowed to enter polling places under Florida law.

McVay said the secretary of state’s office in Florida – which Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for Republicans – instead he will send his supervisors to the three counties, which are among the most heavily Democratic counties in Florida.

“Employees of the Department of Justice were not included in the list,” McVay wrote.

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The Department of Justice is sending Election Day observers to 64 counties

The Department of Justice said Tuesday it had received a letter to oversee DeSantis and still has election officials outside Florida polling stations.

Although Florida law has the option of allowing law enforcement to enter polling places, McVay said Justice Department officials don’t have to.

“In the absence of evidence of the need for federal intervention, or a state law that prohibits Florida law, the presence of police at polling places would be counterproductive and could undermine confidence in the election,” McVay said.

“None of the districts are subject to any election-related endorsements,” McVay said. “No province has been accused of violating the rights of languages ​​or ethnic minorities or the elderly or the disabled.”

The Ministry of Justice said in a statement announcing the center that has overseen international elections since 1965.

Republicans have campaigned against alleged fraud for the past two years, despite little evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, and have threatened politicians, their families and election workers across the country.

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Election monitors in the warring states are expecting delayed results and long fights after the vote ends on Tuesday night.

Separately, Missouri officials on Friday rejected a request by the Department of Justice to conduct routine inspections under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Voting Rights Act at polling places on Election Day. Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R) echoed that sentiment at a meeting on Monday.

He told the Washington Post that the presence of the Justice Department was intended to “harass election officials” and “could intimidate and suppress the vote.”

Ashcroft and Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer (R) told county officials that they would not be allowed to visit polling places on Tuesday. On Tuesday, Justice Department officials stood outside a polling place in Cole County, home to the state capital, Jefferson City.

“This is not the Civil Rights Act. This is the Americans With Disabilities Act. What’s next? They want to be on the ballot because they want to see that the insulation in the house was bought from China in the 1970s? Give me a break,” Ashcroft said in a phone interview.

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He compared Justice Department officials in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Western District of Missouri to “jackbooted thugs” and armed men in Arizona who were seen patrolling ballot boxes.

“I think we’ve had cases all over the country of people being close to polling places,” Ashcroft said. “And they were told that they had to stay away from them because they could scare the voters.” Justice Department officials observed Missouri’s 2016 election at a polling place in St. Louis.

FBI special agents who work as election monitors will also work in the bureau’s 56 offices to receive voting-related complaints from the public, according to the Justice Department. Employees of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will also be manning the telephone all day on Election Day, answering calls from people who have witnessed violations of federal voting rights laws.

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