Former General Michael Flynn and a Florida Proud Boys Leader Sign Up As Republican Party Poll Watchers in Florida

Toby Hazlewood

Impartially ensuring election integrity?
Michael FlynnShutterstock

It emerged on September 12 that former Army General Michael Flynn - a hardline Republican and former National Security Adviser under President Donald Trump - has been elected to serve as a senior GOP leader in Sarasota County. Flynn will also serve as a poll watcher in forthcoming elections, together with a local leader of the Proud Boys group - James Hoel.

The appointment seems controversial given the Proud Boys having been instrumental in the January 6 Insurrection at the Capitol Building, and also for the fact that Mike Flynn has long been a campaigner for the acceptance of the theory that the 2020 election was stolen. At one stage Flynn even urged that the military should overturn the election

With this context in mind, it seems questionable that either Flynn or Hoel could provide impartial oversight in forthcoming elections in Florida.

Influencing from within the GOP?

Whether figures like Flynn and Hoel are likely to act with impartiality in their roles in Sarasota County remains to be seen. In a September 10 appearance on Steve Bannon's 'War Room' podcast, Flynn was clear in stating that his intent is to continue to push his agenda by whatever means he can:

“As long as I got a breath left in me, I am going to continue to push this message of local action and national impact”

He continued:

"...when somebody says... what are you doing specifically? I am now part of the Republican executive committee for the Sarasota, GOP. And I also am volunteering to be a poll watcher in the upcoming elections, particularly in this county, in the state of Florida.”

Florida takes election integrity seriously

While Mike Flynn may be genuinely interested in ensuring the integrity of forthcoming elections in Florida, it's a matter that Governor Ron DeSantis appears to take very seriously. In 2022 he has overseen the introduction of a number of measures intended to protect the integrity of elections as well as apportioning $14 million to the initiatives, including the establishment of an Office of Election Crimes and Security - referred to by some as the governor's private election police force.

Complications to postal voting

Florida's investment in election integrity will also introduce complications to the process of casting postal votes.

One of the unproven allegations quoted by former president Donald Trump in relation to the supposed stealing of the 2020 election - in which Mike Flynn believes so passionately - is that a significant factor was unregulated postal voting.

SB 524 - the election administration act, introduced complications and rules for postal voting that effectively make these votes more difficult to complete and submit. Critics have pointed out that this could be a partisan move given that more than 2.18 million Democrat voters submitted postal votes in the 2020 election compared to just 1.5 million Republican voters.

It seems that these measures, overseen by the Office of Election Crimes and Security and the diligent actions of poll watchers should ensure that Florida's elections remain free from interference - just as they have been historically. Whether the involvement of figures like Mike Flynn helps in that, remains to be seen.

Do you think it is right that such radical figures from either side of the political aisle should be able to play a role in Elections in Florida? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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