U.S. Department of Justice Sends Election Observers to Dallas County

With poll watchers and the threat of voter intimidation, Tuesday's going to feel like an election from an earlier, uglier time.EXPAND
With poll watchers and the threat of voter intimidation, Tuesday's going to feel like an election from an earlier, uglier time.
Tom Arthur

Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans for the more than 500 election monitors it plans to send to 67 counties in 28 states to ensure that voters in those jurisdictions will be able to exercise their right to vote. Monitors will post up in three Texas counties: Dallas, Harris and Waller.

“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,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday. "The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot."

Lynch's announcement comes after an early voting period that saw numerous complaints from Texas civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Election Protection Coalition about misleading signs being posted at polling places and polling place workers giving out incorrect information about the current state of Texas' voter ID law. As the law stands, Texans with a voter ID are required to provide it at the polls, but those without appropriate identification can still vote after signing an affidavit attesting to the reason they couldn't get one.

Bexar County was sued earlier this month by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund for providing what the plaintiffs called incomplete and outdated information to voters, leading Bexar County District Judge Michael Mery to order poll workers in the county to stop telling voters they needed an ID. A hotline set up by the Texas Election Protection Coalition received more than 300 calls about potentially misleading voter ID information in the first week of early voting, according to the Houston Chronicle.

No specific incidents have been reported in Dallas County. Toni Pippins-Poole, Dallas County's elections administrator, told the Observer late Monday that Dallas County election officials have met with the Department of Justice to insure that polling places with high numbers of Hispanic registered voters have appropriate bilingual materials and that Dallas County blind and disabled voters can vote in an easy and private manner. She said that she was unaware of any specific locations that will be monitored.

"We have had monitors in Dallas County before and our judges have been trained as to what to expect and credentials needed to enter the polling locations not only for DOJ but the state inspectors as well," she said.

If and when the monitors do arrive, they'll have to deal with the ones recruited by Donald Trump who are already here. In recent days, Trump, fearful of the election being stolen from him, has ramped up calls to his supporters to go out and watch for any perceived irregularities on Tuesday.

Anyone experiencing issues casting their ballot today is invited to call the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.


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