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Justice Department sending poll monitors to 14 states


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal government will send more than 400 observers and civil-rights lawyers to polling places in 14 states, including Florida, to watch for potential violations of federal laws in Tuesday's balloting, the Justice Department announced Monday.

In Florida, the site of voting controversies in the past two elections, government attorneys are to monitor voting in Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Osceola counties.

Also, the Justice Department is sending 324 federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management along with 108 Justice Department personnel to watch for violations in 26 counties in 14 states, officials said.

The monitors will watch for discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities, and against those for whom English is a second language.

Federal laws protect the right of all eligible voters to cast a ballot, protect minority-language speakers, and prohibit any voter from being challenged on the basis of race, color or language. Voting laws also require elections officials to assist voters who are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write.

In addition to Florida, monitors have been dispatched to Apache and Navajo counties, Arizona; Randolph County, Georgia; Wayne County, Michigan; Adams and Amite counties, Mississippi; Passaic County, New Jersey; Bernalillo, Cibola, Sandoval and Socorro counties, New Mexico; Titus County, Texas; San Juan County, Utah; and Kings and Manhattan counties, New York.

In addition to the five Florida counties, civil rights attorneys will be in San Francisco, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Waterbury, Connecticut; San Juan County, New Mexico; Queens County, New York; and Reading, Pennsylvania.

Justice Department officials were checking records to determine whether the deployment of monitors may be the largest-ever federal presence at the polls on Election Day.



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