WASHINGTON - Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker, and other senior officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ) met today with leaders of dozens of civil rights groups, as well as national organizations representing state and local officials, secretaries of state and attorneys general offices from across the country, to review plans to protect voting rights in the upcoming federal election.
"The Justice Department must make every effort to help ensure that the November elections are run as smoothly as possible - and, equally important, that the American people have confidence in our electoral process," Attorney General Mukasey said. "Communicating openly with groups interested in the protection of voting rights and with the state and local officials primarily responsible for administering our elections is vital to that effort."
"As the United States Supreme Court has recognized, the right to vote is fundamental because it is preservative of all our other rights," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker. "Vigorous enforcement of all our voting laws is a priority for the Civil Rights Division."
The meetings today are part of the Department's continuing effort under the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, which was established in October 2002 to expand efforts to address election crimes and voting rights violations. The two overarching goals of the initiative are to ensure fair voting access and to protect the integrity of the election process.
Earlier this year, on July 1-2, the Department held its 7th annual Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Symposium at its National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., as part of the initiative. This conference provided training for Department personnel and strengthened the nationwide span of expertise related to enforcement of voting rights and prosecution of election crimes.
On Nov. 4, 2008, under the programs implemented by the Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions, the Department will work hard to ensure fair access for the nation's voters, and to uphold the integrity of the nation's democratic electoral process. The Justice Department enforces specific federal voting rights laws and has accomplished significant results in the past several years. As outlined to civil rights leaders and advocacy groups today, the following fact sheet, attached in PDF form, outlines the Department's enforcement efforts to ensure free and fair elections.