Justice Department to monitor polls in 23 states

November 2, 2012

The Justice Department announced Friday that its Civil Rights Division plans to send nearly 800 staff and observers to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states for Tuesday's election. This has been standard practice since passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bars discrimination in elections.

Some of the localities to be observed are in states covered under Section 5 of the law, which requires jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices to receive prior approval or "preclearance" before making changes in elections laws. They are Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia and Alaska, along with parts of Florida, Georgia, California, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Michigan and New Hampshire.

The department's list of places to be observed Tuesday also includes four Ohio counties: Cuyahoga (Cleveland) Hamilton (Cincinnati) Franklin (Columbus) and Lorain.

Justice will be joining an array of civil rights and voter fraud watchdog groups who will be watching the polls. The announcement said that 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."

Federal observers will monitor polling place activities in 17 jurisdictions:  in Russell County, Ala.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; Alameda County, Calif.; Riverside County, Calif.; Randolph County, Ga.; East Carroll Parish, La.; Panola County, Miss.; Colfax County, Neb.; Sandoval County, N.M.; Orange County, N.Y.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Lorain County, Ohio; Williamsburg County, S.C.; Shannon County; S.D.; Dallas County, Texas; Fort Bend County, Texas; and Jefferson County, Texas.

Justice Department personnel will monitor the election in an additional 34 jurisdictions: Mobile County, Ala.; Pima County, Ariz.; Arapahoe County, Colo.; Denver; Duval County, Fla.; Hendry County, Fla.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; Lee County, Fla.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Orange County, Fla.; Osceola County, Fla.; Chicago & Cook County, Ill.; LaPorte County, Ind.; Finney County, Kan.; Detroit & Hamtramck, Mich.; Alamance County, N.C.; Wake County, N.C.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Cibola County, N.M.; Queens County, N.Y.; Franklin County, Ohio; Hamilton County, Ohio; Allegheny County, Pa.; Chester County, Pa.; Delaware County, Pa.; Lehigh County, Pa.; Philadelphia; Richland County, S.C.; Davidson County, Tenn.; Shelby County, Tenn.; Harris County, Texas; and Milwaukee.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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