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Governor Ron DeSantis Hits Back At Biden’s DOJ On Election Monitoring

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing back against President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.

Florida Department of State General Counsel Brad McVay penned a letter to John “Bert” Russ, Deputy Chief & Elections Coordinator for the Department of Justice in which he informed him that election monitors “are not permitted” inside Florida polling locations, The Floridian Press reported.

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“Earlier today, the Florida Department of State received copies of your letters to Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in which you seem to indicate that the Department of Justice will send monitors inside polling places in these counties,” the letter said.

“We also understand you sent a similar letter to Palm Beach County. But Department of Justice monitors are not permitted under Florida law. Section 102.031(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes lists the people who ‘may enter any polling room or polling place’” Department of Justice personnel are not included on the list. 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,” it said

The DeSantis administration will in turn dispatch its own election integrity monitors to ensure that the federal government does not interfere in Florida’s election process. The decree from the Florida Department of State comes a day or so after Broward County activist Chris Nelson first posted an email to “field clerks” he received from a source.

The author of the of email in question urges Supervisor of Elections workers to “grant them access to see the process.”

“These are the DOJ agents that will be roaming the County on Election Day. We must grant them access to see the process. Mostly they will be checking to see if we have the ADA machines out, properly set up with adequate space, available, people trained to use them, etc. They will have DOJ credentials.”

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The Department of Justice said it would monitor 64 jurisdictions in 24 states.

In Florida it included Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County.

“Monitors will include personnel from the Civil Rights Division and from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. In addition, the division also deploys monitors from the Office of Personnel Management, where authorized by federal court order. Division personnel will also maintain contact with state and local election officials,” The Department of Justice said.

“The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, including 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 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 enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion,” it said.

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On Election Day, Civil Rights Division personnel will be available all day to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws by a complaint form on the department’s website https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931. 

Individuals with questions or complaints related to the ADA may call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 833-610-1264 (TTY) or submit a complaint through a link on the department’s ADA website, at https://www.ada.gov/.

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Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. These complaints should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.

The Justice Department recently announced its overall plans for the general election to protect the right to vote and secure the integrity of the voting process through the work of the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division, National Security Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. 

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