Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Justice Monitors Elections in Two Small Towns for Voting Rights Violations Despite Lack of Complaints

Despite the fact that there have not been any complaints, the Justice Department (DOJ) will be monitoring today’s municipal elections in – are you ready for this - Springfield, Mass., and Newburgh, N.Y., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Forget about reams of evidence of voting rights violations in Philadelphia, no Eric Holder's Justice Department would rather spend the taxpayers' money investigating a place where there is no problem.

According to the DOJ press statement, federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Springfield and Newburgh. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

DOJ states that it deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country each year.
1,060 federal observers and 344 Department personnel were sent to monitor 114 elections in 76 jurisdictions in 24 states in 2008.

The statement also instructs citizens about how to file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation.

Well, what good is filing a complaint going to do when DOJ won’t pursue penalties even if they win a case?

A local newspaper, the Hudson Valley Press Online, which serves minority community, said the feds will not say why they’re coming to Newburgh. It quoted a DOJ spokesperson as declining to say what led them to choose Newburgh.

The same article also quoted Susan Bahren, an Orange County, N.Y. elections commissioner, as saying, that she, too, does not know why there will be federal observers. Ms. Bahren also said her office did not receive any complaints about violations of the Voting Rights Act in Newburgh.

Perhaps Ms. Bahren could send them to Philadelphia.

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