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Officials in Florida sought to bar federal election monitors from entering polling places in a handful of counties, arguing that Justice Department personnel do not have the right to be present at polling places under state law.

In a letter to a Justice Department official on Monday, Florida State Department general counsel Brad McVay pushed against the possibility of federal monitors entering polling places on Election Day.

The letter came in response to an announcement from the department that it was sending monitors to polling locations in 64 jurisdictions in 24 states, including Florida’s Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. The department said the move, which is routine on election day, was to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws and “protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot.”

Supported by Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, the Florida letter states that Justice Department vote watchers are not allowed to enter Florida polling places for in-person monitoring, citing a state statute. Which lists who is not “authorized to enter or enter any polling room”. Polling places.” Justice Department personnel are not on the list, the letter said, and the department has not provided evidence that would warrant “federal infiltration.”

The letter also suggested that allowing federal law enforcement to enter polling places “would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election” and that Florida had closed the Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach polling places. But have planned to send their own monitors.

“We want to make it clear that these places are for election workers and voters, not anyone else,” Byrd said during a news conference on Tuesday. “It is in the states that have a constitutional right to polling places, until Congress makes a law … we hope that [the Department of Justice will] Respect Florida law.”

The move comes after Missouri officials also told the Justice Department that monitors would not be allowed inside some polling places.

Missouri’s Cole County, which includes the state capital Jefferson City, appeared on the Justice Department’s list of jurisdictions for surveillance, and officials there have taken similar steps to keep federal watchdogs away from polling places. . Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said over the weekend that he supports County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer’s efforts to keep the monitors out.

“Under Missouri law, the local election authority has the right to decide who can be at polling places other than voters and polling personnel,” Ashcroft wrote. Twitter, “Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer has refused to allow this overreach and the Secretary of State’s office has fully supported him.”

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