The Trump campaign denied that it hired two armed men seen posted outside of a Florida polling place on Wednesday, WFLA reports.
Julie Marcus, a Republican who was appointed as Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections by Gov. Ron DeSantis, told the outlet that a poll worker spotted the men setting up a tent outside a polling place in St. Petersburg.
“The Sheriff [Bob Gualtieri] told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff’s deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company and they indicated—and this has not been confirmed yet—that they were hired by the Trump campaign,” she said.
The Trump campaign denied any involvement.
“The Campaign did not hire these individuals nor did the Campaign direct them to go to the voting location,” spokeswoman Thea McDonald told the outlet.
Deputy to be posted outside:
Officials warned that it is illegal to bring a gun to a Florida polling place, not to mention intimidate voters. It is unclear how close to the polling place the men were. A sheriff’s deputy will patrol the location starting Thursday, Marcus said.
“The sheriff and I take this very seriously,” she said. “Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way shape, or form. So we anticipated many things going into this election. Not only cybersecurity, but physical security and we had a plan in place and executed that plan.”
Trump called for poll patrols:
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said at the first presidential debate last month. “Because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”
Earlier this week, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced an investigation into a Tennessee-based company that was recruiting former Special Operations personnel to act as poll watchers in Minnesota to “make sure that the antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites.”
“Federal law and state law are both clear: No one may interfere with or intimidate a voter at a polling place,” Ellison said. “The presence of armed outside contractors at polling places would constitute intimidation and violate the law. I request this company cease and desist any planning and stop making any statements about engaging in this activity.”