TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Justice Department will monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws on Nov.6 in Tarrant County. It’s one of only 35 jurisdictions in 19 states targeted for federal oversight.
“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “The Department of Justice has been entrusted with an indispensable role in securing these rights for the people of this nation. This year we are using every lawful tool that we have, both civil and criminal, to protect the rights of millions of Americans to cast their vote unimpeded at one of more than 170,000 precincts across America. Citizens of America control this country through their selection of their governmental officials at the ballot box. Likewise, fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”
Ten voters complained last month complained about issue in Tarrant County when selecting “straight party” option at the polls. Texas Secretary of State, Rolando Pablos [R] who is in charge of elections, said “…it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party.”
Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia showed CBS 11 News what can happen when voters move a selection wheel on voting machines in Tarrant County. After the “straight party” option is selected, the ballot takes a couple seconds to load the straight party option — giving voters plenty of time to push buttons below the screen — inadvertently allowing them to change their selections.
“You can always do your review when you get to the summary screen and make sure that what you are seeing on the screen is what you intend to vote for,” advised Garcia.
The electronic ballot was the only option during early voting, but on Election Day, voters can cast a paper ballot.
The Civil Rights Division will send a representative to monitor the compliance of federal voting right laws.
State and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections in the United States. The Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Division has regularly monitored all kinds of elections in the field around the country throughout every year to protect the rights of all voters, and not just in federal general elections.
On Election Day, the Division staff members are available all day by telephone to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws (1-800-253-3931 toll free or 202-307-2767 or TTY 202-305-0082). In addition, individuals may also report complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and by a filling out a complaint form on the Department’s website.
Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Complaints may be directed to the local U.S. Attorneys’ Office or local FBI office. A list of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and their telephone numbers can be found here. A list of FBI offices and their telephone numbers can be found here.
Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. These complaints should also be reported to the Department after local authorities have been contacted.
Here are the other places across the country the Civil Rights Division will monitor for compliance with the federal voting rights laws:
Bethel Census Area, Alaska;
Dillingham Census Area, Alaska;
Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska;
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska;
Apache County, Arizona;
Cochise County, Arizona;
Maricopa County, Arizona;
Navajo County, Arizona;
Sacramento County, California;
San Mateo County, California;
DeSoto County, Florida;
Palm Beach County, Florida;
Pinellas County, Florida;
Fulton County, Georgia;
Gwinnett County, Georgia;
Buena Vista County, Iowa;
Ford County, Kansas;
Clark County, Nevada;
Washoe County, Nevada;
Middlesex County, New Jersey;
Union County, New Jersey;
Erie County, New York;
Benson County, North Dakota;
Rolette County, North Dakota;
Texas County, Oklahoma;
Lehigh County, Pennsylvania;
Pawtucket, Rhode Island;
Buffalo County, South Dakota;
Harris County, Texas;
Tarrant County, Texas;
Waller County, Texas;
San Juan County, Utah; and
Fairfax County, Virginia.
The Civil Rights Division 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; whether jurisdictions are complying with the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit a voter to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter has a disability or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions provide polling locations and voting systems allowing voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act.
Division personnel will also maintain contact with local election officials.