Armed men showed up outside a polling place in Florida and claimed to be with the Trump campaign

Sinéad Baker
·3 min read
  • Two armed men showed up outside a Florida polling place, claiming to be connected to the Trump campaign, the county's supervisor for elections said.

  • The sheriff's office opened an investigation, ABC Action News reported.

  • The Trump campaign told WFLA 8 that it did not hire the men or tell them to go there.

  • In the first presidential debate, Trump urged supporters "to go into the polls and watch very carefully."

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two armed men showed up outside a polling station in Florida on Tuesday and claimed to be a part of the Trump campaign, though the campaign denied any connection with them.

Julie Marcus, the supervisor for elections for Florida's Pinellas County, told local outlet WFLA 8 that the men said they had been hired by the campaign.

Marcus said they were dressed in security uniforms, and set up a tent near an early voting site on 1st Avenue North, St Petersburg.

Thea McDonald, Deputy National Press Secretary for the Trump campaign, told WFLA 8 that the men were not part of Trump's campaign and that they had not got any instructions from them.

Florida early voting
People wait in line to vote outside of an early voting site, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Florida began in-person early voting in much of the state Monday. With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to both candidates in order to win the White House. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

ABC Action News reported that the men left due to the rain, but said that they would return on Thursday.

Fox 13 Tampa Bay reported that sheriff's deputies will be stationed at all of the country's early voting sites from Thursday until November 2, the last day of early voting.

ABC Action News also reported that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating a report of possible voter intimidation over the incident.

Fox 13 noted that bringing a gun to a polling place is a third-degree felony and that political campaigners have to stay 150 feet away from the entrance.

It reported that the sheriff said the men's presence there did not violate the law because they did not bring firearms into the building.

Trump encouraged people to watch polling sites

Trump told his supporters in his first debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden on September 29 that they should watch polling places "very carefully."

trump biden debate
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate on September 29. Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters

"I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it," he said.

He was accused of encouraging voter intimidation by Nevada's attorney general, who said that anyone who did so "will be prosecuted."

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