Continued from page 1

The FBI said agents in the bureau’s 56 field offices will be on duty while polls are open to “receive complaints from the public and take appropriate action.”

The Justice Department has come under increased scrutiny in recent months over its handling of a civil complaint in the New Black Panther Party case, initially sought by the Bush administration but later dismissed by Obama administration officials after a default judgment had been ordered by a federal judge.

Additionally, several states have failed to comply with MOVE and many lawmakers want to know what the Justice Department has done or will be doing about it. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that Justice officials did little after 16 states and territories were caught in noncompliance.

Mr. Perez said four states — Wisconsin, New Mexico, New York and Illinois — agreed to court-approved consent decrees and a federal judge in Guam ruled in favor of a Justice Department lawsuit over violations of the MOVE act.

He said Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota and the Virgin Islands sought out-of-court settlements.

“All of these efforts demonstrate the department’s firm commitment to ensuring that our men and women serving overseas have the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted,” he said.

In the New Black Panther Party case, a civil complaint was filed in January 2009 accusing two party members in black berets, black combat boots, black shirts and black jackets of intimidating voters with racial insults, slurs and a nightstick at a Philadelphia polling place. A third party member was accused of directing and endorsing their behavior. The incident was captured on videotape and gained national attention after it was shown on YouTube.com.

Later, the charges were dismissed against the party, its chairman, Malik Zulu Shabazz, and Jerry Jackson, a Philadelphia party member. Justice sought an injunction against Minister King Samir Shabazz, who carried the nightstick, barring him from displaying weapons at polling places until 2012. The department said the “facts and the law did not support pursuing” the case any further.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Friday will release the results of an investigation it has conducted into the New Black Panther Party case that is expected to be critical of Justice. The 2010 Enforcement Report has focused on what some commissioners have called the growing evidence of a “culture of hostility in the Civil Rights Division to the race-neutral enforcement of the civil rights laws” involving supervisory attorneys and political appointees.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General announced last month it also was investigating the Civil Rights Division to determine whether voting section employees had been harassed for participating in specific investigations or prosecutions.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said his office would review what types of cases are being investigated, whether there have been changes in enforcement policies and procedures, and whether the civil rights laws are being enforced in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Mr. Fine said that while the review would include information about such cases as the New Black Panther Party matter and others, it would focus “more broadly on the overall enforcement of civil rights laws by the Voting Section rather than on a single case.”

Christopher Coates, former chief of the voting rights section, testified before the commission in September, saying his Justice Department supervisors were not interested in pursuing Voting Rights Act accusations against minorities who harass white voters.

Mr. Coates said many within the Civil Rights Division “believe, incorrectly but vehemently, that enforcement of the VRA should not be extended to white voters but should be limited to protecting racial, ethnic and language minorities.” He has since been reassigned as an assistant U.S. attorney in South Carolina.

J. Christian Adams, lead prosecutor in the New Black Panther case who has since left the department, told the commission in July that Justice officials had instructed Civil Rights Division attorneys to ignore cases that involved black defendants and white victims. He said, “Over and over and over again” the department showed “hostility” toward those cases.

Story Continues →