DOJ Rolls Out Plan to |Protect Voting Rights

     WASHINGTON(CN) – Amid concerns that Donald Trump’s call for supporters to “watch your polling booths” could lead to voter intimidation next month, the Justice Department on Tuesday announced several steps it will take on election day to protect the right to vote.
     The steps include the placement of monitors at yet-to-be-determined polling places, and having a group of attorneys in Washington ready to receive complaints about voting violations.
     The Justice Department’s civil rights division will also have a toll free number for people to report voting problems, as well as an email address and a link on the department website.
     It said it will focus on enforcing federal laws against voter intimidation or suppression on the basis of race, national origin or religion.
     “Both protecting the right to vote and combating election fraud are essential to maintaining the confidence of all Americans in our democratic system of government,” the DOJ said in a news release. “The department encourages anyone who has information suggesting voting discrimination or ballot fraud to contact the appropriate authorities.”
     The department will also work with the FBI on election day to field complaints of voter fraud and 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices will be available to enforce election fraud laws, according to the release.
     Although Trump’s claims of vote rigging and calls for poll watchers has heightened tensions in some quarters as election day approaches, the plan the Justice Department announced Tuesday is neither new or a direct response to Trump’s assertions.
     The DOJ rolled out a similar plan just before the 2012 election.
     But there’s no doubt that Trump has ramped up his rhetoric about the election in recent weeks as the a number of national polls show his rival Hillary Clinton is surging.
     Trump has dismissed these polls as “phony” and called on his supporters to be on the lookout for any questionable behavior at the polls.
     “I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us,” Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania earlier this month, according to The New York Times. “And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
     Trump’s calls have spurred fears that his supporters might push the boundaries between poll watchers, which are a standard part of any election, and voter intimidation. A quote from one Trump supporter advocating “racial profiling” at the polls to The Boston Globe last week drew particular attention on social media last week.
     “I’ll look for … well it’s called racial profiling,” the supporter told the Globe. “Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

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