DOJ sending monitors to 18 states on Election Day to enforce voting rights laws

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The Justice Department announced that it is sending officials from the Civil Rights Division to 44 jurisdictions across 18 states to monitor for compliance with federal voting rights laws on Election Day in the matchup between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Federal law entrusts the Civil Rights Division with protecting the right to vote for all Americans,” Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said Monday. “Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”

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The Justice Department said that it “historically has monitored in jurisdictions in the field on election day, and is again doing so this year” and that the DOJ “will also take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center.” Its press release added that the Civil Rights Division “enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot” and that “since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the division has regularly monitored in a variety of elections around the country throughout every year to protect the rights of all voters, and not just in federal general elections.”

DOJ said it was sending monitors to a number of battleground states — three jurisdictions in Arizona, six in Florida, two in Georgia, seven in Michigan, one in Minnesota, two in North Carolina, one in Ohio, three in Pennsylvania, two in Texas, and one in Wisconsin — as well as numerous jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The Justice Department said that “as in past years, monitors will focus on compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and the other federal voting rights laws enforced by the division” and that “monitors will include civil rights personnel from the Civil Rights Division and civil rights and civil personnel from U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” while “Civil Rights Division personnel will also maintain contact with state and local election officials.”

President Barack Obama’s DOJ made a similar announcement the day before the 2016 matchup between then-candidate Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying it was deploying more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states. At the time, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that “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.”

Trump defeated Clinton 304-227 in the Electoral College in 2016 in what took many pundits and pollsters by surprise. The current RealClearPolitics polling average shows Biden at 50.9% and Trump at 44.4% nationally, and with no toss-ups, its map shows Biden ahead of Trump 335-203 in its Electoral College projection. FiveThirtyEight gives Biden a 90-in-100 and Trump a 10-in-100 chance of winning. It is unlikely that the full results of the race will be known on Tuesday, in part due to the high volume of mail-in votes.

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