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Justice Department monitoring Duval County voting

Duval among 6 Florida counties, 44 locations nationwide where monitors will be watching

Line at Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office during early voting. (Erik Avanier/WJXT)
Line at Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office during early voting. (Erik Avanier/WJXT) (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville will be under the federal government’s microscope on Tuesday as voters head to the polls.

Duval County is one of six jurisdictions in Florida, and one of 44 nationwide, where the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will have monitors Tuesday checking to make sure voting sites follow federal laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Americans with Disabilities Act, the Justice Department announced Monday.

“Federal law entrusts the Civil Rights Division with protecting the right to vote for all Americans,” said Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”

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Monitors include personnel from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, who will observe what happens at voting locations, field complaints from the public and document their findings. These monitors, who are trained in election law, will also be in touch with state and local election officials.

While monitors will be in touch with state and local election officials, it’s recommended that complaints about disruptions at polling places be reported immediately to local election officials. Complaints concerning violence, threats or intimidation should be reported to local police and then to the Justice Department.

It’s unclear why Duval — along with Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties — was selected for monitoring. News4Jax reached out to the Justice Department to find out. In response, a spokesperson said it’s based on an assessment the agency produces every year a federal election is held.

“The Civil Rights Division is continuing its mission in monitoring in the field for the November federal election, just as it has in years past," the spokesperson said. "The monitors are distributed across the country, as we have in prior federal election years. Every federal election year, the Department makes a new assessment of where the Department should be, and send out staff based on that assessment for that year.”

To file a complaint about possible violations of federal voting rights laws, you can fill out a report online or via telephone by calling 1-800-253-3931. Those with questions or complaints about ADA access at polling places can file a report online or via telephone by calling 1-800-514-0301.

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About the Author:

A Florida transplant with Midwest roots, Garrett Pelican is the digital executive producer for News4Jax.