Skip to main content
Strategic Goal 3: Protect Civil Rights

Objective 3.1: Protect the Right to Vote

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy – the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.  The Department has a longstanding role in protecting the right of American citizens to participate in fair and free elections.  In recent years, state legislatures across the country have introduced laws that restrict eligible voters from accessing the ballot or that otherwise have the intent or effect of discriminating against voters on account of their race, color, or language minority status.  Historical barriers limiting ballot access for voters with disabilities or voters with limited English proficiency also persist.  There has also been an alarming increase in the number of violent and other unlawful threats against election officials, workers, and volunteers.  These threats are an affront to our system of government and undermine public confidence in our election results.  The Department will use every tool at its disposal to address these challenges.

Strategy 1: Enforce Federal Laws that Protect Voting Rights
The Department will use all appropriate tools to protect the right to vote by enforcing federal laws that protect voting rights.  We will evaluate a wide range of voting statutes and practices implicating ballot access to determine whether filing a new lawsuit or filing a statement of interest or amicus brief in an existing lawsuit is appropriate.  We will also investigate election methods that may result in vote dilution on account of race or language minority status in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  We will bring enforcement actions to remedy any violations identified.  Additionally, we will assist state and local jurisdictions in fulfilling their obligations under federal voting rights statutes.  As part of this effort, we will review existing guidance documents and, where necessary, issue new guidance to election officials and the public.

Strategy 2: Safeguard Fair Elections
The Department will increase our focus on safeguarding election workers and voters by prosecuting criminal behavior, including violence and threats of violence.  Our task force to combat threats against election workers investigates criminal threats; trains federal, state, and local law enforcement; and engages in extensive outreach with state and local election officials to gain greater insight into the nature of the threats they face.  The Department will continue to train personnel throughout the Department to better identify and respond to potential intimidation of, and interference with, voters.  Where state or local law enforcement is the most appropriate solution to a threat, we will work with our state and local partners to respond.  

We will not hesitate to prosecute election crimes when they occur.  Such crimes include violations of campaign finance laws, ballot fraud, and cognizable discrimination.  In addition, we will maintain public confidence in federal election crime enforcement by observing, enhancing, and publicizing rigorous safeguards against improper intrusion on state and local election administration and by adhering to decades-long policies designed to ensure that partisan interests never influence our operations.

Strategy 3: Increase Ballot Access for Eligible Voters
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), in consultation with the Civil Rights Division (CRT), will continue to promote and expand voting among eligible voters in federal custody pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 14019.  The Civil Rights Division is committed to providing technical assistance to federal agencies about obligations and opportunities with respect to voter registration and the National Voter Registration Act, including by engaging with agencies that are interested in securing official state designation as “voter registration agencies” under that statute.  We are also committed to working with the Department of Defense and election officials to facilitate the smooth implementation of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Number of new Voting Rights Act matters initiated
  • Percent of cases prosecuting threats of violence and intimidation against election officials that are favorably resolved
  • Percent of BOP facilities providing structured curriculum on voting rights to releasing individuals

Contributing DOJ Components: CRM, CRT, USAO, BOP, FBI, USMS