Election monitors from the U. S. Justice Department are on their way to Miami-Dade County to investigate reports of predatory voting "assistance" being offered by pro-Romney operatives to elderly voters in a north county precinct.
The Miami Herald reported this morning the complaints came from U. S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, whose district includes the polling station at North Miami Public Library:
Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, said her office has received several complaints of people assisting older immigrants into the library, and manipulating them into voting for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Wilson said she also complained that Gov. Rick Scott declined to extend early voting hours in Miami-Dade, despite long lines.
Assisting people in voting booths is allowed, so long as the voter and the assistant fill out affidavits available at the sites. Miami-Dade elections officials did not know how many such affidavits had been completed at the North Miami Public Library.
Justice Department officials did not explain their decision, but said “personnel will monitor polling place activities during early voting in this county. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.”
Christina White, Miami-Dade’s deputy supervisor of elections, said the county had not been contacted by federal authorities.
Some north county Republicans and at least one prominent Democrat doubted Wilson's report. Democratic Mayor Andre Pierre of North Miami called it "garbage."
Wilson has no dog in the fight. She won re-election in District 24 in the primary since no Republican had filed to run. Her name is not on the general election ballot.
Only two other counties in the U. S., both in Texas, are being monitored during the early voting period though seven Florida counties, two in Ohio and four in Pennsylvania will have federal observers on the ground on election day.
Early voting, which ends today in Florida, remained problematic during its final hours. Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday refused pleas from Democrats and the League of Women voters to extend the early voting period.