“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,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement.
This number of observers and monitors is about two-thirds the number of people the department had watching the polls in 2012. The reduction is due to the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling striking down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, which the department says authorized the use of DOJ observers in states and other jurisdictions covered by the law. Those areas were under federal oversight because of past discrimination against voters.
The change also means that of the 500 personnel, fewer DOJ personnel will be stationed inside polling places as officials poll observers. Instead, more will be monitoring the election from outside, which gives federal authorities less opportunity to spot irregularities and correct them while individuals are voting.
The department will not release a breakdown of how many observers there will be tomorrow versus monitors.
But Vanita Gupta, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said in a statement that: “In most cases, voters on the ground will see very little practical difference between monitors and observers. We work closely and cooperatively with jurisdictions around the country to ensure that trained personnel are able to keep an eye on the proceedings from an immediate vantage point.”
Some civil rights groups are concerned about the reduction in observers, in light of increased tensions in this year’s elections. Republican candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly said he thinks the election is rigged and called on his supporters to go watch the polls for possible cheating. This has raised fears of intimidation of voters, especially minorities.
In addition, a number of states have new …