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Monday, November 7, 2016
Justice Dept. to Have FEWER Election MONITORS Than in 2012
The Justice Department has tasked 200 fewer election monitors to watch more jurisdictions on Election Day this year than they did in 2012, despite concern over voter intimidation and vigilante polls watchers.
The Justice Department announced its plan Monday to deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states to the polls on Tuesday. In 2012, the DOJ sent 780 monitors and personnel to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states.
The reduction in the number of observers and monitors is due to a 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. The law granted the DOJ to deploy observers to jurisdictions that were under federal oversight because of past discrimination against voters.
The 2016 election will be the first presidential contest since the court ruled that a formula used in requiring certain Southern states to clear their election practices with the federal government under the VRA is outdated.
At polling places, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said DOJ monitors will be gathering information on voters’ access to the ballot, including whether voters are subject to different qualifications on the basis of race, or because they speak another language.
“On Election Day itself, lawyers in the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section will staff a hotline starting in the early hours of the morning, and just as we have sent election monitors in prior elections, we will continue to have a robust election monitors program in place on election day,” Ms. Lynch said.
The DOJ will have staff on the ground to monitor polling places in locations such as Maricopa County, Arizona; Hartford, Connecticut; Palm Beach County, Florida; and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
The agency encourages anyone who sees polling place disruptions to local election officials or law enforcement first, and then to the DOJ. The Election Day hotline staffed by DOJ Civil Rights Division staff members is 1-800-253-3931.