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Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Justice Dept. watching Election Day voting (Palm Beach Post)
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at 2:33 PMUpdated Nov 5, 2018 at 4:32 PM
Palm Beach County is one of three Florida counties, and the only in South Florida, that will have teams from the U.S. Department of Justice monitoring Election Day voting to make sure federal laws are followed.
Teams from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will also be in DeSoto and Pinellas counties along the Gulf coast — and a total of 35 counties and census areas in 19 states across the country, according to a statement released Monday.
“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. “This year we are using every lawful tool that we have, both civil and criminal, to protect the rights of millions of Americans to cast their vote unimpeded at one of more than 170,000 precincts across America.”
While the Civil Rights Division regularly monitors elections around the country, it wasn’t immediately clear Monday how or why Florida and Palm Beach County, or the other states and counties, were chosen for a closer look during Tuesday’s voting.
A Justice Dept. official, on background, would not say specifically why Palm Beach County was among the counties picked for watching.
“In determining where to monitor, the Division considers a number of factors, including information provided by state/local election officials and communities, and information gathered as part of the Division’s ongoing compliance reviews,” the official wrote in response to a question about why the county was chosen. “The Division is also continuing its outreach to jurisdictions that are required to provide bilingual election materials and assistance at the polls, pursuant to the Voting Rights Act.”
Susan Bucher, Palm Beach County’s supervisor of elections, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
The Division’s statement said its monitors will be looking to make sure the polling places are in compliance with several federal laws, including those requiring that voters are not being treated differently because of their race, color or language. They’ll also be looking at whether voters with disabilities are given assistance and whether those voters can cast their ballot in private and independently.
The Division will also be taking telephone complaints of possible laws violated at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767. (TTY 202-305-0082.) The public can also fax a complaint to 202-307-3961, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and fill out a complaint form on the Department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.
Complaints about a disruption at a polling place should be reported to local election officials and complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported to local police authorities. The DOJ should also be notified, according to the statement.
In addition to the Florida counties, the teams will be in jurisdictions in Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.