Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 3, 2014

Ahead of Election Day, Attorney General Holder Dispatches Federal Poll Monitors to Aid in Efforts to Prevent Voter Discrimination

In an effort to reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment and responsibility to protect eligible Americans from discrimination at the ballot box, Attorney General Eric Holder released a video today to announce that the Department of Justice will send federal monitors to 18 states across the country.  These monitors will be on the ground gathering information on numerous aspects of local election procedures including voter discrimination, resources for bilingual voters, and adequate services for individuals with disabilities.

“This year, as citizens across the country go to the polls on Election Day, I want the American people to know that the Justice Department will stand vigilant – working, in a fair and nonpartisan manner, to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of intimidation, discrimination, or obstruction,” said Attorney General Holder in a video message recorded for the Justice Department’s website.  “Over the last few months, leaders from the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division have received information from a wide variety of citizens and groups.  Based upon our independent and non-partisan consideration and expertise, we have dispatched federal monitors to polling places around the country – just as we do during every election season.”

The complete text of the Attorney General’s video message is below:

“One of the Justice Department’s most sacred responsibilities is ensuring access to the ballot box for every eligible American.  Over the last six years, my colleagues and I have taken robust action to safeguard this fundamental right: challenging unnecessarily restrictive proposals like certain voter ID laws; advocating for accessible polling places in remote and underserved communities; and fighting back against redistricting proposals and early voting limits that may prevent many Americans from making their voices heard.

“This year, as citizens across the country go to the polls on Election Day, I want the American people to know that the Justice Department will stand vigilant – working, in a fair and nonpartisan manner, to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of intimidation, discrimination, or obstruction.  Over the last few months, leaders from the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division have received information from a wide variety of citizens and groups.  Based upon our independent and non-partisan consideration and expertise, we have dispatched federal monitors to polling places around the country – just as we do during every election season.

“These officials will gather information on numerous aspects of local election procedures, including whether voters are treated differently depending on their race or color; whether jurisdictions are adequately serving individuals with disabilities; whether jurisdictions are complying with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act; and whether jurisdictions are complying with the Voting Rights Act’s requirement to provide bilingual election materials and assistance in areas of need.

“The integrity of our elections, and the ability of our citizens to access the franchise, are fundamental to who we are – both as a nation and as a people.  That’s why, last year, President Obama established a bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration to recommend a series of steps to make it simpler to cast a ballot.  The Commission’s recommendations included expanding online voter registration and early balloting, updating electronic voting equipment, and making polling places more accessible.  The Commission also suggested that bilingual poll workers should be available at any polling place with a significant number of voters who do not speak English.

“These are promising – and necessary – reforms, and I call upon jurisdictions across the country to adopt them.  In the meantime, we must also ensure that the way we administer the laws currently on the books is appropriate, and lives up to our highest values.  Making it more difficult to vote with restrictive measures like burdensome voter ID laws is out of step with our history.

“So I call on election officials and poll workers around the country to consider, as they perform their duties, the importance of the responsibilities that they are working to fulfil.  I encourage every citizen of this country to remember the sacrifices made by generations of patriots to expand and ensure the franchise.  And I urge all eligible Americans – no matter their party affiliation or political views – to exercise their own sacred duty to cast a ballot, to make their voices heard, and to contribute to the direction of our great democracy.”

The full video of the Attorney General’s message is available at http://www.justice.gov/agwa.php.

14-1222
Updated August 28, 2015