Why is the DoJ monitoring polling in 18 states? Here's what federal staffers are doing to ensure fair voting
The monitors, picked from the department's Civil Rights Division, have been traditionally sent to jurisdictions on Election Day to prevent potential voter harassment, intimidation, and discrimination
The Department of Justice has deployed voting rights monitors to 18 states on November 3, including at key battlegrounds of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio, in an effort to preserve the integrity of the voting process. The monitors, picked from the department's Civil Rights Division, have been traditionally sent to jurisdictions on Election Day to prevent potential voter harassment, intimidation, and discrimination.
This time, federal staffers have been sent to 44 jurisdictions across the 18 states. By comparison, the Obama administration deployed monitors to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states in 2016; And in 2012, they monitored 51 jurisdictions in 23 states. It's worth noting that President Donald Trump has repeatedly sounded the alarm on potential voter fraud and urged his supporters to monitor various polling locations on Election Day.
“Federal law entrusts the Civil Rights Division with protecting the right to vote for all Americans,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric S Dreiband said in a statement on November 2. “Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right."
The Civil Rights Division's Voting Section reportedly enforces "civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote," according to a DoJ release. Meanwhile, the division’s Disability Rights Section ensures that persons with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote, and its Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that "prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion."
The jurisdictions where DOJ personnel are deployed per Patch:
Arizona: Coconino, Maricopa, and Navajo counties
California: Los Angeles and Orange counties
Florida: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach counties
Georgia: Fulton and Gwinnett counties
Illinois: City of Chicago and Cook County
Maryland: Montgomery County
Massachusetts: Cities of Boston, Lowell, Malden, Quincy, and Springfield
Michigan: Cities of Detroit, Eastpointe, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Jackson; and Shelby Township
Minnesota: City of Minneapolis
New Jersey: Bergen and Middlesex counties
New Mexico: Bernalillo County
North Carolina: Mecklenburg and Wake counties
Ohio: Cuyahoga County
Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Lehigh, and Philadelphia counties
South Carolina: Richland County
Texas: Harris and Waller counties
Virginia: Fairfax and Prince William counties
Wisconsin: City of Milwaukee
In related news, a former Texas state senator is doling out $5,000 rewards from his own pocket for "tips on voter fraud" that would lead to criminal convictions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. "For me, the foundation of our country is to make sure we have fair and honest elections... This is a nonpartisan issue," former state Sen Don Huffines told Fox News. "The most important thing that really matters in an election is who counts the votes."
Huffines promised to keep in confidence all tips sent to Direct Action Texas, an election integrity organization, and said his offer is meant to be a "broad sweep" to track down "ballot-harvesting, noncitizens voting or even software manipulation," per Fox News. "I’m happy to pay it," Huffines told the outlet. "Hopefully I don’t have to, but I am committed to doing what I can." This came after a retired police officer and poll watcher in Texas submitted in sworn affidavit to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office last month alleging that he had witnessed an election judge and staff members committing voter fraud.
"Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place)," the DoJ release states, while "complaints related to violence, threats of violence, or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911."