Miami-Dade election clerk Gail Jones was busy preparing the polling place at Stanley Axlrod UTD Towers in Miami on Tuesday morning when she was interrupted by loud banging at the door exactly two minutes before the polls opened at 7 a.m.
“I had a line here, 30, 40 people, I haven’t even combed my hair yet,” said Jones late Tuesday afternoon, outside the large Brickell area apartment building, which is full of retirees. Two women and a man, whom Jones described as blonde, white, sporting lots of gold jewelry and speaking with an “Eastern European” accent, were demanding to come in and watch the vote. They claimed to be international poll observers from the International Voters League of Czechoslovakia, and aggressively pressed Jones to let them inside, flashing passports, laminated badges, and paperwork.
Jones told them they had to wait until she had checked on the unknown group with the Elections Department.
“I said nobody can come in,” Jones said she told them. “Voters are voting, they have a right to privacy. You can leave. When I get clearance, you can come back in.”
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Instead, the mysteriously accented blonde woman began filming voters — which is illegal. When Jones told her to stop, the woman began yelling, nose to nose with the veteran elections clerk.
Jones, who is African-American, may be small, but she definitely did not seem like someone who would be intimidated by screaming wanna-be observers.
“I'm like, now you’re getting in my space,” Jones said. “I got back-up.” She left to call the Elections Department. When she returned, the group was gone.
Jones said her suspicions were further aroused because she knew that there is no more Czechoslovakia — in 1992 it was split into two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (A reporter's Google search for “International Voters League of Czechoslovakia” turned up no results.)
“All I know is she came in to disrupt my polling place at one minute to 7,” said Jones. “I’ve been doing this for years and I've never seen anything like that.”