Justice Department Personnel to Observe Election in Shelby County and Across Nation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 05, 2012|
MEMPHIS, TN—With the general election just one day away, the Justice Department has announced that its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 780 federal observers and department personnel to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states for the November 6, 2012 general election, including Shelby County, Tennessee, announced United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton, III.
“We will take every measure possible to ensure the integrity, security, and fairness of our elections process,” said Stanton. “Election and voter fraud undermine the very foundations of our great state and country and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.
In the days leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available by telephone to receive complaints related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws. In the Western District of Tennessee, individuals who feel that they have observed or experienced violations of federal voting rights laws should contact Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Bailey at (901) 969-2920.
In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at (901) 747-4300.
Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and by a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.
Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Complaints may be directed to any of the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the local FBI offices, or the Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412.
Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the department has regularly sent observers and monitors around the country to protect the rights of voters. The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color, or membership in a minority language group. In addition, the act requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance during the election process. Under the Voting Rights Act, the department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that have been certified for coverage by a federal court or the attorney general. The department also may send its own staff to monitor elections in other jurisdictions.
On Election Day, federal observers will monitor polling place activities in 17 jurisdictions and Justice Department personnel will monitor the election in 34 additional jurisdictions. The observers and department personnel will gather information on, among other things, whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability, or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions allow voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act. To assist in these inquiries, the department has deployed observers and monitors who speak Spanish and a variety of Asian and Native American languages. Both the federal observers and department personnel will coordinate monitoring activities, and department attorneys will maintain contact with local election officials.
Last month, the Justice Department announced efforts to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process. More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting and election-related laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting.