Justice Department will monitor Election Day votes in 23 states


The Justice Department is mobilizing more than 780 federal and 51 departmental observers to monitor jurisdictions in 23 states on Nov. 6 in an effort to protect voters and combat election fraud for the general election.

Justice notes that state and local governments are primarily responsible for administering and monitoring elections, but its Civil Rights Division enforces federal voting rights laws that give citizens the right to access the ballot. Ten years ago the Justice Department established a nationwide Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative and since has run yearly election day programs to monitor polls and boost public confidence in the voting process.

Observers look for violations including changing voter requirements or procedures based on a voter's race or membership in a minority group; if jurisdictions comply with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; if a voter who is blind, disabled, or otherwise unable to read or write can select a person of his choice to assist them; and if poll workers comply with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act.

Fraud and other reports are handled by the appropriate U.S. Attorneys' Office with backing from the FBI and the Justice Department. Citizens can make complaints to their local U.S. Attorney, local FBI office, or the Public Integrity Section at the DOJ.

Four of the jurisdictions to be monitored by the federal government are in Texas--Dallas County, Fort Bend County, Jefferson County, and Harris County--where international observers from the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation may also monitor poll places.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott warned (.pdf) OSCE observers that they may be arrested if they come within 100 feet of a polling place, despite the United States being a member of OSCE and that OSCE observers have monitored elections since 2002 without incident.The State Department has said OSCE observers have diplomatic immunity; local Texas media say the strongly worded letter is likely stems from Abbot's political aspirations .

For more:
- see a list of DoJ monitoring districts
- view a list of U.S. Attorneys' Offices and contact information
- read AG Abbott's letter (.pdf)

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