Posted Sept. 25, 2008 – Following concerns from voting rights advocates that criminal prosecutors don’t make good election monitors because they intimidate minority voters, Justice Department officials said Tuesday that it would do things a little differently this Election Day.
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In 2004, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, People for the American Way and other groups complained that the Republican Party deployed prosecutors as a way to deter Blacks – who are more likely to be Democrats and have a history of rough relations with law enforcement officials at polling places – from voting. An unprecedented number of African Americans are expected on to turn out on Nov. 4 – given the fact that they have a chance, for the first time in U.S. history, to vote for an African-American nominee – Sen. Barack Obama.
In light of questions we have been asked regarding who will serve as election monitors, I want to inform the public that no criminal prosecutors will be utilized as election monitors on Election Day this year," acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker said in a statement. "This decision was made as a precaution and is not the result of any instance of intimidation or complaint regarding any specific incident."
Becker and Attorney General Michael Mukasey met with dozens of representatives of voter watchdog groups recently and promised to do everything in their power to ensure a less contentious Election Day than four years ago when minorities, particularly those in Ohio and other battleground states, complained of widespread intimidation.
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