Monday, October 3, 2022

US Justice Department warns states over post-election audit

WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice is warning states that are auditing the 2020 election or are considering using procedures that violate federal protections against voter intimidation and other statutes.

The warning comes as Arizona Republicans continue a controversial review of the 2020 vote count in the state’s largest county, while Republican officials in four other battleground states where former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden are attempting similar efforts. are following.

“Election audits are extremely rare,” the Justice Department said in new guidance on post-election audits released Wednesday. “But the department is concerned that some of the jurisdictions operating them are using, or proposing to use, procedures that violate the Civil Rights Act.”

Post-election review of ballot papers has long been a part of election administration which is controlled by election officials. But audits of the 2020 election that have attracted the Justice Department’s attention are unofficial and are being pushed by Trump’s Republican allies, who allege there was widespread fraud in the election, leading to Trump’s re-election.

In addition to Arizona, Republicans in the four other states that Trump lost — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — are moving forward with efforts to review the 2020 election results, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

“I think the reason we issue this guidance is to tell the courts generally that we are concerned that if they are going to do these audits, the so-called audits of the last election, they have to comply with federal law and They have to be warned. A Justice Department official said they cannot conduct these audits in a way that intimidates voters.

FILE – Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 election are screened and screened by contractors working for Cyber ​​Ninja, a Florida-based company, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 6, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

In its guidance document, the department outlined two broad concerns about the post-election audit. The first concern is the protection of electoral records. Under federal law, election officials are required to keep voting records for 22 months following an election.

“This means jurisdictions have to be careful not to allow those ballots to be mutilated or mutilated or lost or destroyed as part of the audit,” a Justice Department official said during a press call with reporters. ” The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another concern for the Justice Department is voter intimidation. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it is illegal to intimidate voters or those who wish to vote. Examples of voter intimidation mentioned in the document include taking down the license plate numbers of individuals attending voter registration meetings.

“If a jurisdiction is going to conduct one of these audits, it has to do so so that voters are not intimidated and prevent them from voting in future elections,” the official said.

The guidance echoes a warning the Justice Department gave to Arizona Republicans about their post-election audit.

In a letter to a top Republican official, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Carlan questioned a plan by GOP-appointed auditors to go door-to-door “to confirm that legitimate voters were indeed at the address stated.” lived or not. The letter said the planned campaign “raises concerns about potential intimidation of voters”.

In response, Republicans abandoned their planned campaign. While the Justice Department has not issued similar letters to other states, “we are keeping a close eye on what is happening across the country,” the official said.

In Pennsylvania, a state Trump lost by more than 80,000 votes, state lawmaker Doug Mastriano this month began a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election, requesting information from three counties. Democrats have questioned the legitimacy of the audit.

In Wisconsin, another state Trump lost, Wisconsin State Assembly Elections Committee Chairman Rep. Janelle Brantzen announced Monday that her committee would request additional information to ensure a “comprehensive, forensic examination” of the 2020 votes.

Nation World News Desk
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