Justice Department to monitor voting rights across 24 states

Nov 7, 2022, 1:23 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 7:17 am
FILE - A voter casts their ballot at a secure ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and...

FILE - A voter casts their ballot at a secure ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Nov. 1, 2022. The Justice Department will send monitors to 24 states in an effort to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws in Tuesday's elections. The 64 jurisdictions where federal monitors are being sent include Maricopa County, Arizona, where there have been reports of people watching ballot boxes, sometimes armed or wearing ballistic vests. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will send monitors to 24 states in an effort to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws in Tuesday’s elections.

The action, which occurs regularly on Election Day, comes as civil rights groups and the federal government have raised alarm over potential voter intimidation at some polling places and ballot boxes.

The 2022 election is playing out against the backdrop of persistent falsehoods made by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies about losing the 2020 vote, a relentless campaign that will have implications as people cast their ballots.

Democrats, on the other hand, have expressed concerns over the potential for voter suppression.

The 64 jurisdictions where federal monitors — typically lawyers with the department’s civil rights division and U.S. attorney’s offices across the United States — are going include Maricopa County, Arizona, where there have been reports of people watching ballot boxes, sometimes armed or wearing ballistic vests. The Justice Department also announced it would be sending monitors to Cole County, Missouri, where local elections officials have said they would block the monitors.

The attorneys will be in regular touch with election officials in the locations and will watch for signs of disruption to voters’ ability to cast ballots. There is also a call-in line should voters feel they are suffering discrimination at a polling place.

The monitors are being sent to “protect the rights of voters,” as they have for decades, the Justice Department said Monday.

A look at the monitors:

WHO ARE THE ELECTION MONITORS?

The monitors are lawyers who work for the U.S. government. They are not law enforcement officers or federal agents. They generally include lawyers from the Justice Department’s civil rights division and U.S. attorney’s offices across the nation. The government also sometimes brings in employees from other agencies, such as the Office of Personnel Management, who are authorized to act as monitors under a federal court order.

___

WHY ARE THEY BEING SENT TO WATCH ELECTION SITES?

The Justice Department has sent attorneys to monitor election sites and compliance with federal voting laws for more than five decades. The department’s civil rights lawyers are responsible for enforcing civil action tied to the voting statutes and protecting the right to vote.

The laws they enforce include the Voting Rights Act, along with the National Voter Registration Act and other statutes. Prosecutors in the same division also enforce criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and efforts to suppress voting based on someone’s race, national origin or religion.

Some of the locations where they have been sent include areas where there were concerns in 2020, as well as locations where issues have already been raised this year.

___

WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN MARICOPA COUNTY?

The Justice Department has warned about the potential for violations of the Voting Rights Act after people, sometimes armed or wearing ballistic vests, were monitoring ballot boxes in Maricopa County. There was a lawsuit over the activity and the department filed a statement of interest in the case. Federal officials have said that while lawful poll watching can support transparency, “ballot security forces” present a significant risk of voter intimidation.

___

WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY IN COLE COUNTY?

Republican election officials in Cole County have pushed back against the Justice Department’s efforts to review voting access in Missouri. Missouri’s secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft, says county clerk Steve Korsmeyer had declined the Justice Department’s efforts to monitor the polls, and Korsmeyer says he won’t let them in if they show up.

Ashcroft accused the department of “trying to bully a hard working county official.”

In a Thursday email shared by Ashcroft, an assistant U.S. attorney told Korsmeyer that four Department of Justice staffers planned to visit polling sites on Election Day and briefly question poll officials as part of a review in coordination with the civil rights division.

“Rest assured that we understand that you will be administering the election and we will try to minimize the time we spend at each site,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Thomas wrote.

Reiterating his stance on Monday, Korsmeyer told The Associated Press, “The DOJ won’t be allowed into our polling locations,” citing a state statue that gives him some leeway in deciding who, other than election workers, is allowed to enter polling places. But he said Justice Department officials he spoke with were “very respectful and said they wouldn’t enter our polling locations on Election Day.”

“We don’t expect any issues,” he said in an email to the AP.

The department confirmed that its monitors would remain outside.

___

WHERE ARE THE MONITORS BEING SENT?

The Justice Department plans to send the monitors to 64 jurisdictions in 24 different states.

They include: the city of Bethel, Dillingham Census Area, Kusilvak Census Area and Sitka City-Borough in Alaska; Maricopa County, Navajo County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County in Arizona; Newton County in Arkansas; Los Angeles County and Sonoma County in California; Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County in Florida; Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County in Georgia; the town of Clinton, and the cities of Fitchburg, Leominster, Everett, Malden, Methuen, Randolph and Salem in Massachusetts; Prince George’s County in Maryland; Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Southfield in Michigan; Minneapolis, Hennepin and Ramsey counties in Minnesota; Cole County in Missouri; Alamance County, Columbus County, Harnett County, Mecklenburg County and Wayne County in North Carolina; Middlesex County in New Jersey Bernalillo County and San Juan County in New Mexico; Clark County and Washoe County in Nevada; the borough of Queens in New York City; Cuyahoga County in Ohio; Berks County, Centre County, Lehigh County, Luzerne County, Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania; the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island; Horry County in South Carolina; Dallas County, Harris County and Waller County, Texas; San Juan County, Utah; Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia; and Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin.

___

Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

____

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Signs direct voters to drop off their ballots at a secure ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
            
              FILE - A voter casts their ballot at a secure ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Nov. 1, 2022. The Justice Department will send monitors to 24 states in an effort to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws in Tuesday's elections. The 64 jurisdictions where federal monitors are being sent include Maricopa County, Arizona, where there have been reports of people watching ballot boxes, sometimes armed or wearing ballistic vests. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

AP

Associated Press

Railway workers in Austria to strike Monday in pay standoff

BERLIN (AP) — Railway workers in Austria are set to hold a one-day strike on Monday after a failed round of talks in pay negotiations. The Austria Press Agency reported Sunday that both sides said the fifth round of talks on pay for some 50,000 employees of about 65 railway operators, including the main national […]
5 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs a migrant c...
Associated Press

Mexican asylum seekers set their sights north — on Canada

MONTREAL (AP) — Pedro Meraz says living in Colima, Mexico, was like living in a war zone, with shootings, burning cars and dismembered bodies being left outside of schools. When his wife Rocio Gonzalez, a 28-year-old lawyer who worked with abused women, began receiving death threats from a cartel and the local authorities ignored her […]
5 hours ago
General view of the damaged Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. The bridg...
Associated Press

Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Shelling by Russian forces struck several areas in eastern and southern Ukraine overnight as utility crews continued a scramble to restore power, water and heating following widespread strikes in recent weeks, officials said Sunday. With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it […]
5 hours ago
Residents stand in line to enter a store which controls the flow of shoppers in Beijing, Sunday, No...
Associated Press

Protests of strict lockdown hit Shanghai, other China cities

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Protests against China’s strict “zero-COVID” policies resurfaced in Shanghai and Beijing on Sunday afternoon, continuing a round of demonstrations that have spread across the country since a deadly apartment fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi led to questions over such rigid anti-virus measures. Crowds stood and filmed as police started […]
5 hours ago
A U.S. soccer federation screenshot displaying Iran's national flag on social media without the emb...
Associated Press

At World Cup, US soccer scrubs Islamic emblem from Iran flag

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. soccer federation is displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, saying the move supports protesters in Iran ahead of the two nations’ World Cup match Tuesday. Iran’s government reacted by accusing America of removing the name of God from their national flag. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Police: 2 young children stabbed to death in Bronx apartment

NEW YORK (AP) — Two small children died of stab wounds after their mother was taken into custody for observation Saturday night in New York City, police said. A 3-year-old boy and an 11-month-old boy were found in a Bronx apartment with multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso and did not survive after […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Justice Department to monitor voting rights across 24 states