WASHINGTON — The Justice Department today announced that it is deploying an unprecedented number of federal personnel to monitor tomorrow‘s midterm election, sending more that 500 federal observers and more than 350 Justice Department personnel to 69 jurisdictions in 22 states — more than double the total sent on election day in 2002, which was the previous record for a midterm election.
Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice Department has regularly sent observers and monitors around the country to protect election-related civil rights. This summer, President Bush signed the reauthorized Voting Rights Act, which protects the rights of Americans to participate in the electoral process without discrimination. Under the law, the Department of Justice is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to areas that have been certified for coverage by a federal court, or the Attorney General, pursuant to the Act.
Federal OPM observers and/or Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in 69 jurisdictions in 22 states throughout the country:
The observers and monitors will watch and record activities during voting hours at select polling locations in the aforementioned cities and counties. Civil Rights Division personnel will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials. In addition, the Department has deployed observers and monitors who speak Spanish, as well as Arabic, and a variety of Asian and Native American languages.
The OPM observers and Department personnel will monitor whether certain counties and localities are complying with federal voting laws by, for example, determining whether any voters are challenged improperly on the basis of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group; complying with the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act; permitting voters who are blind, have disabilities, or unable to read or write assistance by a person of their choice; and permitting all eligible voters to cast a ballot, or at least a provisional ballot.
Voters will be able to file complaints online on the Voting Section home page at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm. Civil Rights Division personnel will be available at a specially staffed toll free number, 1-800-253-3931, to receive complaints, and on a dedicated TTY line for the hearing impaired, 1-888-305-3228.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice‘s Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting.