Justice Department Announces On-The-Ground Monitoring of Cuyahoga County Polling Places

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Cuyahoga County and Lorain County are two of the 28 counties nationwide where on-the-ground monitoring of polling places on Tuesday will be conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, according to a press released issued today by the department.

The Justice Department explained:

The department’s monitoring 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 minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability, or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions allow 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. Department personnel also will maintain contact with local election officials.

With three counties monitored by the department (Cuyahoga, Lorain, Hamilton), Ohio has the most of any state except for Florida, with four.

Voting rights in Ohio has been a contentious issue in recent years in public debate and — most importantly — the courts, regarding political attempts to block early voting, traditionally most used by African American voters, who traditionally vote for Democratic Party candidates. Perhaps this is because the longest lines exist at minority polling places. A Sept. editorial in the New York Times ("Long Lines at Minority Polling Places") says:

Some of the longest lines on Election Day occur at polling places in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. A new report says that’s not a coincidence.

In the three states with the longest lines in 2012, precincts in minority neighborhoods were systematically deprived of the resources they needed to make voting operate smoothly — specifically, voting machines and poll workers, according to the report by the Brennan Center for Justice. The report’s data show the growing need for federal supervision of voting rights, though ensuring supervision is harder than ever since the Supreme Court removed the teeth from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 last year.

The Justice Department also put out a video of Attorney General Eric Holder explaining election monitors.

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