The officials will monitor voting sites to determine if these areas are complying with federal voting rights laws, according to a press release by the DOJ.
Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said this operation happens each election cycle.
“And obviously, North Carolina being a battleground state, where the presidential contest is very close — that by itself would be some indication of why it would be useful to have monitors in North Carolina,” she said.
Gary Sims, director of the Wake County Board of Elections, said North Carolina’s importance in this election will not affect Wake County’s Election Day procedure.
“We do have a heightened focus on North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean things are really different as far as how we’re doing business, you know, working with voters,” he said.
The DOJ’s announcement follows a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina NAACP on Oct. 31, which said the state is suppressing thousands of black voters in the state by attempting to cancel voter registrations.
On Nov. 1, the DOJ filed a statement of interest, which said the attempt to remove voters at this rate violated the National Voter Registration Act.
Earls said she does not think it is significant that the lawsuit was filed around the same time as the DOJ’s decision to send federal monitors to North Carolina.
She also said out of all the counties that will be monitored, only one of them — Cumberland County — was involved in the NAACP lawsuit.
Sims said the officials monitoring voting sites on Election Day will not affect voters in any way.
“I’ve already spoken with them, as a matter of fact, I’ll be meeting with them before they actually go out,” he said. “We’re not talking about an army of people here, we’re just talking about, you know, a few people coming and visiting.”
Earls said she likes the idea of federal officials monitoring jurisdictions on voting day and said she thinks having officials there to enforce federal laws is important to the democratic process.
“I think it’s actually a very useful public service because at least one campaign has been raising this specter of: ‘Our elections are rigged, and there’s fraud everywhere,’” she said.
“And I think it would be useful to have federal monitors who can say, ‘Nope, we were there on the ground, we didn’t see any fraud, we didn’t see any rigging, this was a fair election process.’”
Sims also said he is satisfied about DOJ officials monitoring his jurisdiction.
“I am kind of happy that the Department of Justice is coming, simply because I like to show off what we do and how we do it,” he said. “I think we have a good process, and that’s always been the case in the past whenever they come.”