The United States Dept. of Justice will monitor polling places in Pittsburgh on Election Day, the department announced today.
Allegheny County, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley are among a list of 67 jurisdictions where the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will deploy personnel. In a press release, officials emphasized that since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the department has “regularly” monitored elections in certain jurisdictions across the country.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in the statement that the DOJ will enforce federal statutes by filing their own litigation, submitting statements of interest in private lawsuits and working with election officials and members of the public in interpreting laws.
On Election Day, lawyers for the DOJ will be staffing a hotline all day (toll free at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 or TTY 202-305-0082) and “will continue to have a robust election monitors program in place.”
“As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides,” Lynch said in the prepared statement.
The Department said that complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials.
The move comes amid nationwide concerns about voter fraud and voter intimidation. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has peddled concerns that the election has been rigged against him while simultaneously encouraging his supporters to closely watch polls.
A federal judge this morning tossed a Pennsylvania lawsuit that alleged Trump’s campaign engaged in voter intimidation and suppression in the state. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party had quietly filed suit last week against the Trump campaign, the Pennsylvania Republican Party and a pro-Trump poll watcher site.
As voter intimidation is a civil rights issue, the state Dems claimed that the parties have violated the Voting Rights Act — which bars voting discrimination on the basis of race — and the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, an anti-terrorism law that bans conspiracies to threaten or intimidate and allows federal powers to intervene over local and state jurisdictions.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond granted the Pa. GOP’s motion to quash the complaint.
The original lawsuit cited a late October Bloomberg News story that offered a behind-the-scenes look at the Trump campaign and its late campaign strategies. The Bloomberg report quoted an official saying, “We have three major voter suppression operations under way.” The story detailed that they’re specifically targeting “white liberals, young women and African Americans.”