County is only Virginia jurisdiction on DOJ list; monitoring comes in the wake of registrar’s decision to put armed police officers at the polls on Election DayThe U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday in a press release that Chesterfield County is one of 86 jurisdictions nationwide that it will monitor on Election Day for voting rights violations.
DOJ says it will send approximately 840 federal poll observers to 25 states. Florida and South Dakota, each with nine jurisdictions on the list, will be the most observed states. Chesterfield is the lone jurisdiction in Virginia to come under DOJ scrutiny.
According to DOJ’s press release, among the most important objectives of the monitors is to determine “… whether any voters are challenged improperly on the basis of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group,”
“We are not absolutely certain why Chesterfield County ended up on this list,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director. “But we do know that there are nearly 40,000 local political jurisdictions in the United States and that the 86 being monitored by DOJ were not selected at random.”
“It seems highly likely that Chesterfield’s much criticized decision to place armed, uniformed police officers at the polls drew the attention of federal voting rights lawyers,” added Willis.
In a letter sent last week to Chesterfield County registrar Lawrence C. Haake, III, the ACLU asked that armed police officers not be posted at the polls because some voters will be intimidated by their presence. The NAACP and representatives of the Virginia Muslim Coalition have also opposed police at the polls in Chesterfield
The ACLU suggested that Chesterfield County follow the lead of other jurisdictions in Virginia, which have beefed up security on Election Day without placing uniformed police officers at polling places.
The DOJ release can be found at https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/pr/2004/October/04_crt_725.htm
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022