[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced Monday that it would monitor the Wisconsin recall election [press release] taking place on Tuesday to prevent voter fraud. The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be one of the jurisdictions that the DOJ will oversee to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) [DOJ backgrounder], which prohibits discrimination in the election process based on race, color or membership in a minority language group. Under the VRA, the DOJ is authorized to ask the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [official website] to send federal observers to monitor activities in the polling places. During the election, voters will decide whether to keep Governor Scott Walker (R) in office or replace him with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) [official websites]. A total of 12 cities in Wisconsin will be monitored for voter fraud and Wisconsin’s Department of Justice [official website] is also sending assistant attorneys general and special agents from its Division of Criminal Investigation. The other jurisdictions include Alameda, Fresno and Riverside Counties, California; Cibola and Sandoval Counties, New Mexico and Shannon County, South Dakota.
There is an ongoing debate over the prevalence of voter fraud. Supporters of the controversial voter ID laws [JURIST news archive] often argue that such laws are necessary to prevent the alleged prevalence of voter fraud. However, the Brennan Center for Justice [advocacy website] has argued [report, PDF] that such laws have an adverse effect on qualified voters while not effectively solving the problem. Other civil rights groups have challenged the new laws that are now in 32 states [NCSL backgrounder]. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN) [advocacy website] filed a petition [JURIST report] to challenge the proposed ballot initiative that would require citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. During the same month, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] signed [JURIST report] a bill that would require citizens to show one form of acceptable identification to vote. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was challenged [JURIST report] earlier in May by a coalition of civil rights groups on behalf of citizens who lack valid photo ID.