Meadows vote center turnout steady

Voters fill the booths at The Meadows vote center Tuesday morning in the 2022 midterm election.

ATLANTA— Three jurisdictions in Georgia will be monitored by the U.S. Justice Department for compliance with federal voting laws.

The Justice Department announced its plans to monitor compliance in 64 jurisdictions in 24 states for the Nov. 8 general election, a practice the Civil Rights Division has had since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to protect the rights of voters.

In Georgia, the jurisdictions include Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties — all in metro Atlanta. 

Like Georgia, the battleground states— which have races that will determine U.S. Senate control—of Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will also be monitored by the Justice Department.

More recently, the counties under DOJ watch in Georgia, which are also the state’s most populous, have experienced some election-related issues.

Just two days before the election, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that they filed a lawsuit against Cobb County for failing to mail out absentee ballots that had been requested by more than 1,000 residents.

The error was reportedly attributed to a human error within the elections office. A judge ordered on Nov. 7 that those absentee ballots must be sent via overnight mail to those affected and postmarked by the voter on Election Day. Those ballots now have until Nov. 14 to arrive at Cobb Elections and Registration office.

Fulton County elections have been under investigation since 2020 after gaining national attention resulting from claims of voter fraud by former President Donald Trump.

While no voter fraud was found after several investigations, some mismanagement and disorganization issues surfaced in Fulton County.

Those issues included voters complaining of not receiving their absentee ballots, long lines and election equipment failures.

Gwinnett County has the state's largest Hispanic population, and the monitors will likely be closely assessing if the election department has minority language election materials and assistance, as required in certain jurisdictions.  

Monitors will also enforcing compliance with other federal voting laws that:

  • Prohibit election practices that have either a discriminatory purpose or a discriminatory result on account of race, color, or language minority status.
  • Prohibit intimidation of voters.
  • Allow voters who need assistance in voting because of disability or inability to read or write to receive assistance from a person of their choice (other than agents of their employer or union).
  • Require accessible voting systems for voters with disabilities.
  • Require that provisional ballots be offered to voters who assert they are registered and eligible to vote in the jurisdiction, but whose names do not appear on poll books.
  • Require states to provide for absentee voting for uniformed service members serving away from home, their family members also away from home due to that service, and U.S. citizens living abroad.
  • Require covered States to offer the opportunity to register to vote through offices that provide driver licenses, public assistance, and disability services, as well as through the mail; and to take steps regarding maintaining voter registration lists.

The Justice Department said its monitors will include personnel from the Civil Rights Division and from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and in some cases personnel from the Office of Personnel Management, where authorized by federal court order.

Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should be reported to local election officials; Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported to local police, then reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted, according to the Justice Department. 

Civil Rights Division personnel will be available all day to receive complaints from the public in any county across the U.S. related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws on the department’s website https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931. 

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