A lengthy story in the Charlotte Observer describes the reduction of Department of Justice observers in polling places across the country. After the Shelby County case on the formula for Section 5 VRA coverage, the Department now needs to show a Court that there is a reason and need to involuntary require personnel enter a local polling place. If there was evidence to warrant intervention, the Court would order requiring the observation. The article points out that the DOJ Attorney General no longer has the unilateral ability to simply designate observation targets, but the Courts may do so with evidence of intimidation or harassment.
The story focuses on Mississippi Secretary of State who still accommodates the DOJ like other outside observers who don’t have direct access to the polling place but may monitor issues that arise on Election Day. Ironically, despite the alleged impact on Shelby County, the DOJ now says that they will have some sort of observer presence in half the states, at least as many as 2012.
The Justice Department will deploy “a robust number of trained department personnel into roughly half of the nation’s states this fall – at least as many states as in 2012, despite the setback of Shelby County,” Lynch continued. “This expert team will watch the proceedings carefully to make sure that the elections are conducted fairly and in accordance with federal voting rights laws.”