Department of Justice Sending Attorneys To Monitor Polls – Campaigns Prepare For Election Litigation
As the 2012 Presidential Campaign enters the last few days before the November 6th General Election, tensions are rising to a fever pitch over the likelihood of a closely contested outcome and; neither the Federal Government, nor the two campaigns are leaving anything to chance. Concerned over possible voting irregularities, the Department of Justice is dispatching nearly 800 attorneys and staff to monitor voting in the most hotly contested jurisdictions in 23 states.
It is widely expected that tempers will be short in many areas, thanks to exceedingly long lines—as well as the real possibility of open confrontations of voters trying to cast their ballot—being challenged by partisan ‘poll-watchers’ from various right-wing groups, such as True The Vote, which is now the subject of criminal investigations.
Further, in many areas, the voting procedures are being closely monitored by the DOJ and the Obama campaign, as Team Romney has employed poll watching operatives who have been trained to mislead voters on their right to vote! While one hates to predict that this could result in violence at the polls…it is certainly a possibility. As reported by msn.com, citizens who wish to vote should be aware of how they can respond to voter interference or outright intimidation, which is a federal crime…
The public can phone or email complaints about possible voting rights violations through Tuesday.
The phone numbers are 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 and the number for those who are deaf or hard of hearing is 1-877-267-8971. The fax number is 202-307-3961.
Complaints can be emailed to email@example.com or filed by filing out a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/ .
Complaints also may be directed to any of the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, local FBI offices or the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412.
In Florida, there is already grave concern being expressed over early voting irregularities over substantial early tally changes, five-hour waits to vote and missing absentee ballots not being received by voters, some of whom made their requests over a month ago! There are also concerns that voters who may not have been able to cast an absentee ballot but show up in-person to vote, will be provided ‘provisional ballots’ in many jurisdictions and that those ‘provisional ballots’ may never get counted.
Moreover, if long lines persist on election day, it is all but certain that injunctive relief will be sought in state and/or federal courts in places like Florida and Ohio (as happened in 2004) to keep the polls open long after their scheduled closing times.
Added to that stress, is the fact that some (mostly Democratic, East Coast Blue States) are scrambling to prepare for election day amid recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy. Electrical power and even polling places in many precincts were entirely wiped out and must be restored or replaced in order to allow orderly, timely voting access.
Therefore, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are readying a virtual ‘army of attorneys’ to slug it out in court if necessary—on a whole host of election issues. In a report filed yesterday by the Associated Press, reported by msn.com–the key to any litigation over the election results, e.g. possible recounts or challenges to voting rights or the disposition of ‘prosivional ballots’–is the actual width and breadth of any discrepancies reported.
In other words, if the election outcome shows a clear winner, i.e, a substantial vote margin favoring one candidate or another, then the importance of any litigation is lessened–unless the ballots in dispute would actually affect how a given state’s electoral votes would be awarded.
Perhaps the clearest illustration of that dynamic would be if President Obama holds on to all of the traditionally Democratic states he carried in 2008…and, as well, has an insurmountable lead in Ohio, and various other swing-state combinations…say, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and/or Nevada…then protracted post-election litigation over Florida’s 29-Electoral Votes would be largely academic—as Romney would still be short of the 270 Electoral Votes needed for election.
Of course with final presidential polls still showing very close or ‘margin-of-error’ numbers in most of the swing states; nothing is certain and, a lengthy repeat of the 2000 Election might be on the horizon. The challenges went on for many weeks after the election, until the Supreme Court ultimately ruled 5-4 to halt the Florida recount in Bush v. Gore.
And, despite all of the above—with all of the various possible scenarios—we may still see a fifth election in U.S. history, where our next president is elected with the most Electoral Votes, yet loses the nationwide popular vote. As I’ve asked before…is this a great country or what?
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