The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday that personnel from their Civil Rights Division will “monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws” at polling places in 35 jurisdictions across 19 states to ensure the integrity of the midterm elections against “fraud,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Citizens of America control this country through their selection of their governmental officials at the ballot box. Likewise, fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot,” said Sessions in a DOJ press release.
He said the department will use “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.”
Sessions emphasized that “voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American.” He noted, “The Department of Justice has been entrusted with an indispensable role in securing these rights for the people of this nation.”
The Justice Department will send representatives to monitor counties in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
The DOJ routinely sends personnel to districts across the country during elections to ensure the integrity of the voting process, according to the press release. In 2016, the administration of then President Barack Obama deployed more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states for the 2016 presidential election.
The Justice Department also stated that the Civil Rights Division “has regularly monitored all kinds of elections in the field around the country throughout every year to protect the rights of voters, and not just in federal elections.”
Thus, on November 6, “the Division again will be monitoring in the field around the country.”
Despite the regularity of DOJ monitoring during elections, some are unhappy about the announcement. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the activist Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law immediately condemned the DOJ monitoring, alleging it promoted a “false narrative about voter fraud.”
In a statement, Clarke also accused Sessions of “voter suppression.” She asserted, “At every turn, this Justice Department has failed to take action to enforce the Voting Rights Act and protect the interest of minority voters.”
She added her organization will be “watching” the DOJ’s voter monitoring “with great skepticism.”
Conversely, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a national election integrity law firm, commended the DOJ plan to “monitor and enforce federal election laws with personnel across 19 key states.”
“Jeff Sessions is doing a wonderful job directing the Department to enforce all federal election laws in sensitive jurisdictions and at large,” said PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams in a statement. “What a refreshing restoration of the rule of law. This DOJ leadership, unlike the last administration, are clearly setting a course for how to deter, detect, and confront violations of election law.”
Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2018
Also, on Monday, President Donald Trump promised to prosecute anyone caught voting illegally in the mid-term election. “Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law,” he wrote.