The Justice Department announced on Monday that its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states for the Nov. 8, 2016, general election.
Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the department has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters.
“The bedrock of our democracy is the right to vote, and the Department of Justice works tirelessly to uphold that right not only on Election Day, but every day,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “We enforce federal statutes related to voting through a range of activities – including filing our own litigation when the facts warrant, submitting statements of interest in private lawsuits to help explain our understanding of these laws, and providing guidance to election officials and the general public about what these laws mean and what they require. 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. As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides. The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot.”
Leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available by telephone to receive complaints related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws (Toll free at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 or TTY 202-305-0082). In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com and by a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.
Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Complaints may be directed to any of the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the local FBI offices or the Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412. A list of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and their telephone numbers can be found at www.justice.gov/usao/find-your-united-states-attorney. A list of FBI offices and accompanying telephone numbers can be found at www.fbi.gov/contact-us.
As always, complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. They should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.
On Election Day, the Civil Rights Division will monitor the election on the ground in 67 jurisdictions for compliance with the federal voting rights laws:
- Bethel Census Area, Alaska;
- Dillingham Census Area, Alaska;
- Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska;
- Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska;
- Maricopa County, Arizona;
- Navajo County, Arizona;
- Alameda County, California;
- Napa County, California;
- Siskiyou County, California;
- East Hartford, Connecticut;
- Farmington, Connecticut;
- Hartford, Connecticut;
- Middletown, Connecticut;
- New Britain, Connecticut;
- Newington, Connecticut;
- West Hartford, Connecticut;
- Hillsborough County, Florida;
- Lee County, Florida;
- Miami-Dade County, Florida;
- Orange County, Florida;
- Palm Beach County, Florida;
- Fulton County, Georgia;
- Gwinnett County, Georgia;
- Hancock County, Georgia;
- Chicago, Illinois;
- Cook County, Illinois;
- Finney County, Kansas;
- Orleans Parish, Louisiana;
- Quincy, Massachusetts;
- Dearborn Heights, Michigan;
- Detroit, Michigan;
- Hamtramck, Michigan;
- St. Louis, Missouri;
- Douglas County, Nebraska;
- Mineral County, Nevada;
- Washoe County, Nevada;
- Middlesex County, New Jersey;
- Cibola County, New Mexico;
- Kings County, New York;
- Orange County, New York;
- Queens County, New York;
- Cumberland County, North Carolina;
- Forsyth County, North Carolina;
- Mecklenburg County, North Carolina;
- Robeson County, North Carolina;
- Wake County, North Carolina;
- Benson County, North Dakota;
- Rolette County, North Dakota;
- Cuyahoga County, Ohio;
- Franklin County, Ohio;
- Hamilton County, Ohio;
- Allegheny County, Pennsylvania;
- Lehigh County, Pennsylvania;
- Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania;
- Pawtucket, Rhode Island;
- Providence, Rhode Island;
- Bennett County, South Dakota;
- Jackson County, South Dakota;
- Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota;
- Shelby County, Tennessee;
- Dallas County, Texas;
- Harris County, Texas;
- Waller County, Texas;
- San Juan County, Utah;
- Fairfax County, Virginia;
- Prince William County, Virginia, and
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The department will gather information on, among other things, whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions provide polling locations and voting systems allowing voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act.
To assist in these inquiries, the department has deployed personnel who speak Spanish and a variety of Asian and Native American languages. Department personnel will also maintain contact with local election officials.
Last month, the Justice Department announced efforts to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process. More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting rights laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/voting-section.
Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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