DeSantis officials reject federal voting monitors in South Florida

Secretary of State Cord Byrd said it was because monitors wanted to enter polling sites.
State Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach
State Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach [  | Florida House of Representatives ]
Published Nov. 8, 2022|Updated Nov. 8, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ secretary of state appointee pushed back on a U.S. Department of Justice request to enter polling sites in South Florida today.

Federal authorities have been regularly monitoring polling sites for civil rights violations since the 1960s. Today, members of the Civil Rights Division will be monitoring 64 sites in 24 states.

But this year, monitors asked to enter polling sites in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to Secretary of State Cord Byrd, who oversees state elections.

Previously, federal officials stayed outside polling sites, only entering if they had a consent agreement with the counties, Byrd said. In the department’s opinion, those consent agreements have ended.

“When they told us they wanted to go into our polling places, we wanted to make it clear that those are places for election workers and for voters, not for anyone else,” Byrd said during a Tuesday morning news conference.

“This is not to be confrontational in any way,” Byrd clarified. “They sent a letter to the counties asking for permission to be in the polling places. We told him that under state law, that is not permitted.”

Officials in Missouri also are refusing to allow federal authorities to enter polling sites.

In a letter to federal officials, the general counsel for the Department of State wrote that state officials asked for specific reasons for allowing them to enter polling sites, but they did not receive a response.

“None of the counties are currently subject to any election-related federal consent decrees,” General Counsel Brad McVay wrote. “None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.”

McVay wrote that the state would send its own monitors to the three counties. “These monitors will ensure that there is no interference with the voting process,” he wrote.

Under Florida law, only official poll watchers, inspectors, election clerks, the elections supervisor, voters or people helping them vote and law enforcement or emergency personnel with permission by the clerk are allowed to be inside a polling site.

A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment.

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