FBI, Justice Dept. prep for Election Day security concerns

Photo: Stephanie Simoni
Photo: Stephanie Simoni

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department and FBI say they will have officials ready on Election Day to respond to potential crimes, with monitors at select polling places and lawyers and agents who will field complaints regarding voter intimidation, fraud and other problems.

In addition, a centralized command post at FBI headquarters will monitor specific threats reported across the country.

A Justice Department statement Tuesday outlining its Election Day response said attorneys from the civil rights and criminal divisions would work to ensure that voters have their ballots “counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.”

The department routinely relies on its lawyers, investigators and other staff in elections, but the fairness of this year’s election process has attracted unusual public attention.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly warned without evidence that the Nov. 8 election could be “rigged.” U.S. intelligence officials have said the Russians appear to be trying to interfere with the election process through hacking. And the Justice Department has warned that it’ll dispatch fewer election observers as a result of a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The exact number of observers and other personnel at the polls will not be revealed until closer to Election Day.

The Justice Department says lawyers in its civil rights division will field complaints regarding voter intimidation and discrimination and other efforts to suppress the vote on the basis of race, gender, religion and national origin.

Lawyers from the criminal division will respond to complaints about election fraud, such as vote buying or submission of multiple ballots, and the nearly 100 United States attorneys’ office across the country are designating attorneys who are responsible for handling potential election crimes in their districts.

The FBI command post will involve the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. The FBI said the command post would assist local field offices and “ensure that allegations relating to violations of federal criminal law and security threats to the election are appropriately handled.”

A spokeswoman said the command post was not specific just to cyber concerns.

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Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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