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The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has the responsibility to enforce federal voting rights statutes including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in states, which it does through observing elections in the field. Federal elections monitoring has taken place since the passage of the act.
Personnel from the division and U.S. attorneys’ offices monitor election activities in various jurisdictions across the states, which can change each year. In 2022, federal monitors were in place in Milwaukee and Racine. Monitors also reviewed elections in Milwaukee in 2020, 2016 and 2012.
Officials looks for discriminatory practices, voter intimidation, available assistance for voters who need it, provision of voter registration at various government offices, and other factors. Florida and Missouri objected to federal monitoring in their states and required monitors to stay outside at 2022 midterm election polling sites.
US Department of Justice: Justice Department releases information on efforts to protect the right to vote, prosecute election fraud and secure elections
U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Federal voting rights observer program
US Department of Justice: About federal observers and election monitoring
The Carter Center: A guide to election observer policies in the United States
US Department of Justice: Justice Department to monitor polls in 24 states for compliance with federal voting rights laws (2022)
US Department of Justice: Justice Department again to monitor compliance with the federal voting rights laws on election day (2020)
US Department of Justice: Justice Department to monitor polls in 28 states on election day (2016)
US Department of Justice: Justice Department to monitor polls in 23 states on election day
Washington Post: Florida, Missouri tell Justice Department voting monitors to stay outside polling places