Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren is among more than 75 prosecutors and police chiefs who co-signed a statement Thursday condemning efforts to undermine the voting process through interference with the U.S. Postal Service or threats to deploy law enforcement to the polls.
The statement, put out by the Fair and Just Prosecution, a network for progressive-minded prosecutors, said that public trust in democracy and government “is integral to public safety. When one system is attacked and fails, it compromises the ability of all systems to function, including our criminal justice system.”
The statement was released following comments made last month by President Donald Trump that revived the idea in an interview with Fox News of using law enforcement to monitor polling places, a tactic that in the past has been used to scare voters, particularly Black voters, away from the ballot box.
“We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have hopefully U.S. attorneys and we’re going to have everybody, and attorney generals,” Trump said in discussing who he hopes will be monitoring in-person voting.
Federal law bans U.S. government officials from sending “troops or armed men to any place where a general or special election is held.”
Florida law does not allow members of law enforcement to serve as poll watchers.
Still, the comments have raised concerns about voter intimidation, an issue addressed in the Fair and Just Prosecution statement, which noted that “the threat to police the polls evokes the darkest chapters of American history.”
The statement also blasted “efforts to interfere with the United States Postal Service,” saying that “the ability to vote by mail is essential to protecting our cherished democratic process.”
In recent weeks, Trump’s criticism of the Postal Service has raised concerns that the USPS was being politicized or that there were intentional efforts to slow down mail service ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Postal Service officials have since sought to reassure voters that the agency has the capacity to handle election mail, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said that election mail would be prioritized.
“The American people must be able to safely vote and they must have faith those votes will be counted,” the statement from the Fair and Just Prosecution read. “We strongly condemn all efforts to interfere with and undermine the democratic process. And we call on all leaders around the nation to join us in combatting these disheartening and destructive efforts.”
Warren, the Hillsborough County state attorney and a Democrat, is one of only two Florida officials to sign the statement. The other is Aramis Ayala, the outgoing state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties.
Other signatories include Democratic attorneys general of 11 states, as well as a number of prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country.