The Department of Justice and the state of Florida both are sending observers to polling places Tuesday in three Sunshine State counties, Florida Politics reported.
The DOJ, which Monday announced it would send election monitors to locations in 24 states, is sending observers to three South Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
The department said its observers will enforce civil rights provisions of federal law protecting access to voting.
Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd's Office said the DOJ's plan would violate the law and disrupt elections. Thus, the state said it planned to send its own observers to those counties and ensure federal officials do not disrupt midterms elections, Florida Politics reported.
In a letter to the DOJ, Florida State Department general counsel Brad McVay noted Florida law prohibits such observation by federal officials.
McVay cited a statute on the conduction of elections that states: "No person may enter any polling room or polling place where the polling place is also a polling room, or any early voting area during voting hours except the following: 1. Official poll watchers; 2. Inspectors; 3. Election clerks; 4. The supervisor of elections or his or her deputy; 5. Persons there to vote, persons in the care of a voter, or persons caring for such voter; 6. Law enforcement officers or emergency service personnel there with permission of the clerk or a majority of the inspectors; or 7. A person, whether or not a registered voter, who is assisting with or participating in a simulated election for minors, as approved by the supervisor of elections."
McVay said DOJ monitors did not fall into any of those categories.
"Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list," McVay wrote to the DOJ. "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.
"Indeed, your letters do not detail the need for federal monitors in these counties. 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."
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both are running for reelection in the midterm elections.
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