News, Voting

Department of Justice to send monitors to five North Carolina counties on Election Day

I_Voted_StickerThe feds are sending an extra set of eyes to the polls in Cumberland, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Robeson and Wake counties next week.

Each Board of Elections director was notified Thursday that the Department of Justice would be sending election monitors to various polling sites on Election Day, according to Pat Gannon, spokesman for the State Board of Elections.

He said it’s not believed the move is anything out of the ordinary for a federal election and directed all other questions to the DOJ. The federal agency has not yet released any information about election monitor locations this year, and a spokesperson Friday would not discuss the decision to have monitors in North Carolina.

There was no reason or specific site provided for the visits, according to Forsyth County Board of Elections Director Tim Tsujii.

“To me, it just seems random,” he said. “The poll monitors will just be kind of behind-the-scenes.”

Tsujii said he was assured that residents’ voting process would not be disturbed and that any interaction with the DOJ’s monitors would be minimal.

“I think if anything, it’s for voters’ protection to offer an extra set of eyes,” he said.

Tsujii has been at the Board of Elections for a year, he said, but in asking around, it’s the first time to anyone’s recollection that the DOJ has visited Forsyth County for election monitoring.

There will be 101 polling sites in Forsyth County on Election Day. Tsujii said he has already informed managers of each location to be prepared for a possible visit.

Kerry McComber, external communications manager for Wake County, said DOJ election monitors were nothing new for the county and that the Board of Elections welcomes their visit.

“We run a great election, and it’s an opportunity to show them that we run a great election,” she said.

She added that early voting in Wake County has been a great success and that they expect high turnout on Election Day. There will be 202 polling sites open Tuesday.

Board of Elections directors in Cumberland and Robeson counties could not be reached Friday for comment. There will be 77 polling sites in Cumberland County and 39 in Robeson County.

North Carolina is expected to be a high-turnout swing state in the election. There has also been much controversy this year involving voter suppression and redistricting, so a visit from the feds may not be a bad thing.

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