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Department of Justice to monitor polls in two Arizona counties on Election Day

Nov 7, 2016, 10:49 AM | Updated: 1:05 pm
(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)...
(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

PHOENIX — The Department of Justice will monitor polling places in two Arizona counties on Election Day, it was announced Monday.

In a release, the department said officials would be on the ground to keep an eye on things in both Maricopa and Navajo counties.

“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,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in the release.

In addition to staffing the sites with employees, the department has set up a hotline for voters to report issues at the polls along with a specific email address and voter complaint website. The hotline number is 800-253-3931 and the email address is [email protected].

“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,” Lynch said.

The department will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to look into any complaints it receives.

“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate,” U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo said in a release.

“It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination, voter intimidation, or election fraud make that information available immediately to my office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”

Maricopa County has had several voting concerns in the past year. During the presidential preference election in March, some voters waited hours to cast a ballot. The Department of Justice investigated that election, specifically the decision of County Recorder Helen Purcell to reduce the number of polling places.

Despite officials insisting plenty of voting centers would open for the general election, those participating in early voting in the county were again subject to long lines this month.

Late last month, the Arizona Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against the state Republican Party and GOP nominee Donald Trump’s campaign alleging voter intimidation.

The lawsuit alleges that both the GOP and Trump’s campaign are suppressing voters, particularly those in minority areas, by encouraging groups of supporters to keep an eye on polling places.

Timothy La Sota, who is in the General Council for the Republican Party, said the lawsuit is meant to distract voters from allegations surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“This isn’t the first time the Democrats have used the legal process to try to bolster their candidates.”

KTAR’s Kaely Monahan contributed to this report.

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Department of Justice to monitor polls in two Arizona counties on Election Day