01 November 2006

Federal observers and monitors heading to polls

November 1, 2006

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department plans to dispatch more than 800 federal observers and monitors to 20 states to protect voting rights in potentially troubled polling locations, officials announced Tuesday.

That is a record number of federal officials watching polling stations in an off-year election.

"Yes, the anticipated closeness of races is one factor in our decisions about where we'll be sending people," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan Kim.

Kim said he would not identify until Monday the more than 65 cities and counties to which the observers will be sent.

The locations where federal observers will be stationed are selected because of past polling problems, an uneasy history among ethnically or racially diverse groups, or where fears and allegations of potential violations are asserted.

The Justice Department is reluctant to make public plans for elections observers. One official said that is because observers are viewed, in part, as frontline collectors of data that could be used to construct cases against local jurisdictions.


[This is a practice commonly known as "the fox guarding the hen house". dixychik]

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