Justice Dept. to monitor polls in Hillsborough County, 28 states

Posted at 11:15 AM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 18:02:00-05

The Justice Department says it will send more than 500 staffers to 28 states on Election Day to monitor the polls.  That's a 35 percent reduction from the number four years ago.

One staffer will be placed in Hillsborough County.

RELATED: More political news | Your Ballot in plain English

Department officials say personnel will be sent to 67 jurisdictions to watch for potential civil rights violations. Monday's announcement comes amid rising concerns about voter intimidation, particularly aimed at minorities.

The number of personnel is less than the roughly 780 monitors and observers who were dispatched in 2012.

The Justice Department has said its poll-watching presence has been curtailed by a 2013 Supreme Court opinion that gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the department is committed to ensuring that every eligible voter can participate in the election.

On Election Day, the Civil Rights Division will monitor the election on the ground in 67 jurisdictions for compliance with the federal voting rights laws: 

• Bethel Census Area, Alaska;
• Dillingham Census Area, Alaska;
• Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska;
• Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska;
• Maricopa County, Arizona;
• Navajo County, Arizona;
• Alameda County, California;
• Napa County, California;
• Siskiyou County, California;
• East Hartford, Connecticut;
• Farmington, Connecticut;
• Hartford, Connecticut;
• Middletown, Connecticut;
• New Britain, Connecticut;
• Newington, Connecticut;
• West Hartford, Connecticut;
• Hillsborough County, Florida;
• Lee County, Florida;
• Miami-Dade County, Florida;
• Orange County, Florida;
• Palm Beach County, Florida;
• Fulton County, Georgia;
• Gwinnett County, Georgia;
• Hancock County, Georgia;
• Chicago, Illinois;
• Cook County, Illinois;
• Finney County, Kansas;
• Orleans Parish, Louisiana;
• Quincy, Massachusetts;
• Dearborn Heights, Michigan;
• Detroit, Michigan;
• Hamtramck, Michigan;
• St. Louis, Missouri;
• Douglas County, Nebraska;
• Mineral County, Nevada;
• Washoe County, Nevada;
• Middlesex County, New Jersey;
• Cibola County, New Mexico;
• Kings County, New York;
• Orange County, New York;
• Queens County, New York;
• Cumberland County, North Carolina;
• Forsyth County, North Carolina;
• Mecklenburg County, North Carolina;
• Robeson County, North Carolina;
• Wake County, North Carolina;
• Benson County, North Dakota;
• Rolette County, North Dakota;
• Cuyahoga County, Ohio;
• Franklin County, Ohio;
• Hamilton County, Ohio;
• Allegheny County, Pennsylvania;
• Lehigh County, Pennsylvania;
• Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania;
• Pawtucket, Rhode Island;
• Providence, Rhode Island;
• Bennett County, South Dakota;
• Jackson County, South Dakota;
• Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota;
• Shelby County, Tennessee;
• Dallas County, Texas;
• Harris County, Texas;
• Waller County, Texas;
• San Juan County, Utah;
• Fairfax County, Virginia;
• Prince William County, Virginia, and
• Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Florida is always a battleground state and within Florida, Orlando is the most sought after area. Their election office is taking strict precautions. Those counting mail-in ballots can't bring purses or even water. They count the ballots with green pens because most people don't have a green pen at home.

ABC Action News checked in with Hillsborough County and while they are not taking these types of precautions, they insist no one is going to mess with you or your ballot at any point.

"When you come to the voting site you are only going to be in there with voters from your precinct," said Craig Latimer, Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County, "They are not allowed to intimidate at a polling site. If there's any problem our poll deputies are going to call 911 and get law enforcement there."

More than 400,000 people have already voted before election day in Hillsborough County. That is more than 50% of the people who are eligible to vote.

As far as the federal staffers sent in to watch the polls, Latimer says that's pretty normal too. The county saw them in 2008 and 2012.