- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On the day of a midterm election that is expected to change the balance of power in Congress, the Justice Department said it is closely monitoring any reports of voter discrimination that could be used to keep people away from the polls.

“As citizens across the country go to the polls on Election Day, I want the American people to know that the Justice Department will stand vigilant — working, in a fair and nonpartisan manner, to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of intimidation, discrimination or obstruction,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

The department dispatched dozens of members of its Civil Rights Division to monitor voting Tuesday at sites in 18 states. Although voting enforcement usually falls to the states and local governments, the Justice Department said it is monitoring the elections over concerns of possible discrimination.

“The integrity of our elections, and the ability of our citizens to access the franchise, are fundamental to who we are — both as a nation and as a people,” Mr. Holder said.

Mr. Holder has previously joined President Obama in condemning the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision that overturned parts of the Voting Rights Act, saying that it could lead to discrimination that could be used to keep minority voters away from the polls.

Justice officials said the 18 states they are monitoring closely are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

“The department’s monitoring 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,” a press release from the agency said.

Officials aren’t necessarily monitoring the entire state, but, from the list of areas monitored, appear to be set up in specific counties around the country that have a high minority population or a history of racial discrimination.

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