Florida Warns the Justice Department on Positioning Federal Displays Inside Florida Polling Locations

I will likely be doing the protection tonight on the election for Fox News and election day has already gotten off to a vigorous begin when it comes to authorized conflicts.  There are already dozens of lawsuits from each events filed throughout the nation. We beforehand mentioned Fetterman’s latest effort to enlist the agency of controversial Clinton lawyer Marc Elias to get a federal courtroom to strike down a Pennsylvania election provision. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has informed the Department of Justice that federal Election Day ballot displays are “not permitted” inside polling locations below Florida regulation. That might result in an attention-grabbing battle between state and federal authority at these polling locations.

On Monday, the DOJ launched a listing of 64 jurisdictions inside 24 states wherein the division plans to ship attorneys to “monitor for compliance with federal voting rights legal guidelines” on Election Day. The checklist included Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties in Florida.

That prompted Brad McVay, basic counsel to Florida’s Department of State, to put in writing to John “Bert” Russ, Deputy Chief & Elections Coordinator Voting Section within the Civil Rights Division. McVay famous that the checklist “appear[ed] to point” that these displays will likely be positioned inside polling locations. However, McVay famous that “Section 102.031(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes lists the individuals who ‘might enter any polling room or polling place’… Department of Justice personnel should not included on the checklist.”

While there may be a simple compromise (utilized by the Trump Justice Department), Russ might reply that “we’re the Justice Department, we do not need to be on a listing. We maintain lists.”

So if it got here to a confrontation, who is correct?

Let’s begin with the state regulation. There is an exception to the checklist for regulation enforcement below Section 102.031(3)(a):

(3)(a) No individual might enter any polling room or polling place the place the polling place can be a polling room, or any early voting space throughout voting hours besides the next:

1. Official ballot watchers;

2. Inspectors;

3. Election clerks;

4. The supervisor of elections or his or her deputy;

5. Persons there to vote, individuals within the care of a voter, or individuals caring for such voter;

6. Law enforcement officers or emergency service personnel there with permission of the clerk or a majority of the inspectors; or

7. An individual, whether or not or not a registered voter, who’s aiding with or collaborating in a simulated election for minors, as permitted by the supervisor of elections.

McVay appropriately notes within the letter that DOJ has not defined “the necessity for federal displays in these counties. None of the counties are presently topic to any election-related federal consent.”

If there have been such pending orders, there can be no query of the authority of federal brokers to enter polling locations. The DOJ may also argue that, even with out such an order or pending matter, it has federal jurisdiction to research doable election fraud or voting suppression. Moreover, the regulation doesn’t require such pending orders. It merely permits for “regulation enforcement officers” (and never simply state regulation enforcement officers) to enter these polling locations.

The letter doesn’t really state an intent to bar federal officers. It additionally doesn’t contend that, if DOJ articulated a foundation for federal concern, the state would nonetheless object. The federal officers might merely present up and drive Florida to hunt an injunction to take away them. The federal officers would have the sting in such a courtroom problem.

The Trump Justice Department despatched displays to some polling locations in 2020. However, they agreed to stay outdoors whereas monitoring situations. Florida was objecting to the suggestion that the Biden Justice Department meant to station officers inside the polling locations.

There is some indication that the Biden Justice Department will comply with the identical strategy below the Trump Administration and stay outdoors. However, federal officers might search entry in the event that they see or hear of a place inside the polling place. I’d be stunned if the state would search to bar entry in such a case given the concurrent federal jurisdiction in elections.

Here is the letter from McVay: Florida/DOJ letter