electionlineWeekly — September 18, 2008
I. In Focus This Week
Justice Department discusses Election Day preparations
Questions about non-interference policy, use of election observers linger
By Kat Zambon
As Election Day approaches with potentially record-shattering numbers of new voters, officials from the
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this month used a meeting with activists and a Senate hearing to detail
their preparations for November 4.
Despite their efforts at increasing communication, the tenor of the talks revealed a continuing rift between
the department and the advocates, who worry that the department is more concerned with prosecuting
cases of voter fraud than ensuring ballot access. The department reached out to advocates to
demonstrate their willingness to maintain a dialogue with groups that have in the past questioned their
commitment to pursuing cases of violations of voting.
DOJ will deploy hundreds of Election Day monitors and observers and will have both a toll-free hotline
with translation services available and a Web site for voters to report any problems they experience at the
polls, said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.
"The Justice Department must make every effort to help ensure that the November elections are run as
smoothly as possible and, equally important, that the American people have confidence in our electoral
process," said Attorney General Michael Mukasey. "Communicating openly with groups interested in the
protection of voting rights and with the state and local officials primarily responsible for administering our
elections is vital to that effort."
The session with advocates was followed by a meeting with national organizations representing state and
local election officials, secretaries of state and attorneys general as part of DOJ’s Ballot Access and
Voting Integrity Initiative.
In particular, advocates said they were concerned about the use DOJ criminal