Number of election observer declines; Justice Department sends over 500 observers in 28 states to monitor polls in U.S.

WASHINGTON, U.S. - The United States Justice Department is set to deploy around 500 people in 67 cities and counties in 28 states on Tuesday to observe and safeguard Election Day ...


• Poll monitors to ensure no voting intimidation and racial discrimination

• U.S. Justice Department to open hotline email service on Election Day to report wrongdoing

• Connecticut gets new voting devices for people with disabilities

WASHINGTON, U.S. - The United States Justice Department is set to deploy around 500 people in 67 cities and counties in 28 states on Tuesday to observe and safeguard Election Day practices.

In a statement, the agency said that its employees would be dispatched to Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are termed battleground states, while Florida and Pennsylvania are considered ‘must-wins’ for both the candidates.

However, the number of deployments has decreased sharply since last election’s 780-plus personnel. 

The Justice department has claimed that the number has plunged due to a 2013-Supreme Court ruling that restricted its ability under the Voting Rights Act to deploy observers, mostly in the South, with a history of voting discrimination.

The department will also have personnel in 67 jurisdictions to ensure unhindered voting for all. They will also ensure voters irrespective of their race, ethnicity, language, disability or other criteria could vote without inference.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “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. 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.”

The department’s Civil Rights Division will open a hotline (1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767, or TTY 202-305-0082) and email (voting.section@usdoj.gov) to file complaints of discrimination or voting problems on the 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,” Lynch said in the statement.

However, the agency claimed that voters would hardly be able to detect their presence and voters would not be intimidated. 

Vanita Gupta, Head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, explained in a statement, “In most cases, voters on the ground will see very little practical difference between monitors and observers. We work closely and cooperatively with jurisdictions around the country to ensure that trained personnel are able to keep an eye on the proceedings from an immediate vantage point.”

Replacing the old phone-fax technology, voters with disabilities will have a new stand-alone, tablet-based system for voting in Connecticut.

Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill said that her staff worked with the federal agency to acquire new voting devices for disabled voters. 

She has also urged the Justice Department to ensure that it sends its monitors and observers, who are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal election reform legislation, enacted after the 2000 presidential election.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who has repeatedly claimed that the election could be rigged as illegal immigrants and other ineligible people could turn out in large numbers to cast vote had claimed that he would not commit to accepting the poll results during the third and final presidential debate.

The Republican nominee, in a rally in Ohio had even said, “Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump (me).”

Trump then went on to urge his supporters to monitor polls on their own. 

Trump’s concern are shared by a large number of voters as the federal court has cancelled laws in several states, where people required state-issued IDs to be allowed to vote.

 

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