DOJ Begins to Spell Out Midterm Election Security Efforts
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice on Tuesday showed the first outward signs of it ramping up election security efforts ahead of the 2022 midterms, spelling out some of the activities it will be engaged in before and after Nov. 8.
Consistent with longstanding department policies and procedures, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will take the lead in the field monitoring compliance with federal voting rights laws.
In addition, Civil Rights Division attorneys in Washington will be ready and waiting to receive complaints of potential violations and will coordinate with other department officials to determine the appropriate actions to take in response.
The division’s primary goal in these efforts is to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or suppression, the department said in a press release.
The Civil Rights Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, and with the criminal provisions of federal statutes prohibiting discriminatory interference with that right.
It enforces the civil provisions of a wide range of federal statutes that protect the right to vote including: the Voting Rights Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; the Help America Vote Act; and the Civil Rights Act.
It also reminded voters on Tuesday that collectively these laws:
- Prohibit election practices that have either a discriminatory purpose or a discriminatory result on account of race, color or language minority status.
- Prohibit intimidation of voters.
- Allow voters who need assistance in voting because of disability or inability to read or write to receive assistance from a person of their choice (other than agents of their employer or union).
- Require minority language election materials and assistance in certain jurisdictions.
- Require accessible voting systems for voters with disabilities.
- Require that provisional ballots be offered to voters who assert they are registered and eligible to vote in the jurisdiction, but whose names do not appear on poll books.
- Require states to provide for absentee voting for uniformed service members serving away from home, their family members also away from home due to that service, and U.S. citizens living abroad.
- Require covered states to offer the opportunity to register to vote through offices that provide driver’s licenses, public assistance and disability services, as well as through the mail; and to take steps regarding maintaining voter registration lists.
In addition, the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination in voting based on disability.
The ADA applies to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, selection and accessibility of voting facilities, and the casting of ballots on Election Day or during early voting, whether in-person or absentee.
The Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.
Individuals with complaints related to possible violations of federal voting rights laws can call the department’s toll-free telephone line at 800-253-3931, and also can submit complaints through a link on the department’s website, at https://civilrights.justice.gov.
Individuals with questions or complaints related to the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383, or submit a complaint through a link on the department’s ADA website, at [email protected].
All complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported first to local police authorities by calling 911. After alerting local law enforcement to such emergencies by calling 911, the public should contact the department.
The department said that as election day grows closer it will provide additional information regarding its efforts to protect the right to vote and the election process, including where the Civil Rights Division will monitor elections in the field on Election Day.