Tarrant County 1 of 35 sites in the U.S. to be monitored for voting rights violations

Federal election monitors will be in 35 communities across the country — including Tarrant County — on Election Day.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will be watching to make sure federal voting rights laws aren’t violated and voters aren’t treated differently because of color, race or disability.

“This year we are using every lawful tool that we have, both civil and criminal, to protect the rights of millions of Americans to cast their vote unimpeded at one of more than 170,000 precincts across America,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated.”

Civil Rights Division workers will be in 19 states, in 35 different jurisdictions, on Tuesday.

Three of those sites are in Texas: Tarrant, Harris and Waller counties.

The Justice Department typically monitors polling places. Monitors also were in Tarrant County during the November 2016 election.

“The Tarrant County Elections Administration Department welcomes representatives from the Department of Justice,” Heider Garcia, Tarrant County’s elections administrator, said in a written statement. “Observation of polls is common practice for the DOJ and should not be a sign of concern for anyone.

“The DOJ will conduct an independent observation of the process, with no presence of Elections Administration personnel.”

Officials don’t say how many workers will be in Texas this year. And they don’t identify which local polling places they will monitor.

“Elections Administration is not expected to have any further contact with DOJ observers, and will wait for their final report,” Garcia said.

Monitors also will be in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.

Texas Secretary of State inspectors also will be watching polling sites around the state, including some in Tarrant County, to make sure there are no voting problems, said Sam Taylor, a spokesman with the state agency that oversees elections.

As for the Justice Department workers, they will be watching for discrimination and whether election workers are complying with provisions of the Voting Rights Act. They’ll also be watching to ensure that people with disabilities receive the assistance they need in casting ballots.

Officials say any disruptions at polling places should be reported to local election officials. The Tarrant County Elections Office can be reached at 817-831-8683. And any concerns regarding violence, intimidation or threats of either at polling places should be reported to police by calling 911.

Above and beyond that, Civil Rights Division workers can be reached on Election Day by phone, email or fax.

To report a complaint related to potential violation of federal voting rights laws call 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767. Email concerns to voting.section@usdoj.gov or fax them to 202-307-3961. Reports also may be made online at the justice department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.

President Donald Trump weighed in on election concerns Monday morning.

“Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting),” Trump tweeted. “Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!”

Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 6, on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

The Star-Telegram has joined ProPublica’s Electionland project to track and monitor voting problems nationwide. If you experience any problems on Election Day in Tarrant County that stop you from voting or make it difficult, share your experience with us by text message, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. For more information about Electionland, click here.

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