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Department of Justice observers watched local polls Tuesday
[November 09, 2012]

Department of Justice observers watched local polls Tuesday

Nov 09, 2012 (Times-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division monitored the polls on Tuesday during the general election in Alamance County.

The county was among 51 jurisdictions in 23 states that were monitored on Election Day by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. State and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, while the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.

County Attorney Clyde Albright notified the Alamance County Board of Commissioners by email on Monday that he and Alamance County Board of Elections Director Kathy Holland had met with two DOJ officials from the Civil Rights Division about the poll monitoring.

"They stated their objective was to monitor and observe the election," Albright said. "Specific questions focused on voting equipment; hours our polls are open; voter ID and confirmation thereof; they asked for a list of acceptable IDs; they asked about provisional ballots and how they are used; and they asked about poll worker training." Albright also said the DOJ asked if Alamance County had interpreters at the polls, which he said are not required by law.

Holland said she provided DOJ officials with a list of the county's voting precincts during the Monday meeting and that the DOJ has monitored the county's elections in the past.

According to the DOJ, 780 federal observers and department personnel were deployed nationwide on Election Day to monitor the polls. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the DOJ has regularly sent observers and monitors around the country to protect the rights of voters.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color, or membership in a minority language group.

Alamance County wasn't the only jurisdiction in North Carolina where the DOJ sent federal observers and Justice Department personnel on Election Day. Wake County was also monitored.

According to the DOJ, the observers and department personnel gathered information during the monitoring process to determine if voters were subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

The observers also worked to determine whether jurisdictions complied with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Last month, the Justice Department announced efforts to ensure that all qualified voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.

Holland said on Wednesday she had not been contacted again by the DOJ since Monday. The DOJ was contacted by the Times-News on Thursday regarding the monitoring in Alamance County and declined to comment.

___ (c)2012 Times-News (Burlington, N.C.) Visit Times-News (Burlington, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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