Justice Department monitoring recall election in Milwaukee


The U.S. Justice Department is in Milwaukee today, monitoring the recall election to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups also are monitoring the recall election.

Already, in Milwaukee, there have been reports that allies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker are calling signers of recall petitions and telling them – falsely – that they don’t need to vote today.

Election Protection, a national voter-protection coalition, said this morning, “There have been numerous reports, including calls to the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline, about deceptive robocalls telling voters who signed the recall petitions or voted in the recall primary that they do not need to vote today. That information could not be farther from the truth. If you’ve received this type of call, disregard it, call Election Protection and head to the polls if you are an eligible voter.”

The reports also prompted Democratic challenger Tom Barrett’s campaign to launch a round of phone calls to recall petition signers to tell them that they do need to vote in the election. An e-mail from the Barrett campaign to supporters late June 4 said, “This pathetic, last-ditch effort to derail our campaign proves just how scared Scott Walker and his allies are of our massive GOTV operation. With our final tracking poll showing a difference of just one vote, our volunteers are on the ground attempting to achieve something that has never been done in Wisconsin: knock on more than 1.2 million doors before the polls close.”

Justice Department officials, meanwhile, are in Milwaukee to uphold the Voting Rights Act and federal statutes. Justice also is monitoring elections in California in Alameda, Fresno and Riverside counties, Calif.; in New Mexico in Cibola and Sandoval counties; and in South Dakota in Shannon County.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.

In addition, the act requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance during the election process. 

Fresno County, Riverside County and the city of Milwaukee are required to provide assistance in Spanish. Cibola, Sandoval and Shannon Counties are required to provide language assistance to Native American voters. Alameda County is required to provide language assistance to Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino voters.

Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department was authorized to ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to jurisdictions that are certified by the attorney general or by a federal court order.

Federal observers were assigned to monitor polling place activities in Shannon County based on the attorney general’s certification and in Alameda, Riverside and Sandoval Counties based on court orders. These observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations while Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Fresno County, Cibola County and the city of Milwaukee. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from OPM, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country.

To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 800-253-3931.