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Department of Justice to monitor voting conditions in Minneapolis

Federal civil rights officials to monitor Election Day proceedings in Minneapolis, along with 43 other jurisdictions.

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ST. PAUL — U.S. Department of Justice officials on Monday, Nov. 2, said they planned to deploy civil rights division monitors to oversee Election Day proceedings in Minneapolis.

In a news release, department officials said they would fan out to 44 jurisdictions in 18 states to uphold voting laws that ensure people's right to vote.

Last month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Minneapolis police union issued a call for retired officers to monitor the polls in potential "problem" areas of the city. Under Minnesota law, voter intimidation is illegal and poll watchers are designated by political parties before Election Day.

“Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment," Eric S. Dreiband, the division's assistant attorney general, said in a news release. "The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”

Secretary of State Steve Simon on Monday, Nov. 2, said it would be up to city officials in Minneapolis to determine whether to allow the federal officers to enter into polling locations. State law prevents law enforcement officers from entering into polling locations unless they've been invited to do so.

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As of Monday morning, 2,055,519 voters had requested absentee ballots and 338,944 of those remained outstanding. The 1,716,575 absentee ballots accepted so far represented 58% of the total turnout in 2016.

Across the state, polls are set to open 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 3

DOJ civil rights officers invited voters with concerns about possible voting rights complaints to visit https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or call 800-253-3931.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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