Last week, on the day before the elections, President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice announced that it was sending election monitors to Florida — specifically to Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.
In its letter, the Justice Department said it was dispatching officials from its civil rights office as well as federal prosecutors to 64 jurisdictions in 24 states, which included red and blue areas alike in both the north and the south.
“Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Division has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters,” DOJ said in its notice.
“The Civil Rights Division will also take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center. The Civil Rights Division enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot.”
Yet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration objected.
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In its own letter to the DOJ, the Florida Department of State said it would send its own monitors to watch federal authorities.
That was necessary because that violated state law and because the DOJ could offer no reason for its presence.
“Department of Justice monitors are not permitted under Florida law,” the letter informed the DOJ. Florida statutes identify people who “may enter any polling room or polling place,” and DOJ personnel “are not included on the list.”
“Even if they could qualify as ‘law enforcement’ … 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. 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.”
State elections officials noted that when asked for the specific authority that would permit federal monitors during, the Biden administration could not produce any.
In response, the Florida Department of State signaled that it would deploy its monitors as allowed under state law. “These monitors will ensure that there is no interference with the voting process,” the letter concluded.
As recently reported by the conservative website Florida’s Voice, “the DeSantis Administration said their letter was ‘successful’ and no federal personnel violated state law prohibiting their entry.”
“In the end, the DeSantis Administration said the DOJ obeyed Florida’s declaration and did not violate the law. There were no reports of major polling issues in the Sunshine State and a vast majority of results were in before other states’ polls closed.”