Attorney General Merrick Garland Says Justice Department ‘Will Not Allow Voters to Intimidate’ Ahead of Midterm Election | CNN Politics

Washington CNN — Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday that the US Department of Justice will not allow voters to face threats in the November midterm elections. “The Department of Justice has a duty to ensure a free and fair vote for all who are entitled to vote,” Garland said at his press briefing. “We will not allow voters to be intimidated.” More than 7 million votes had already been cast in 39 states as of Monday, according to election management data from Edison Research and Catalist. However, with two weeks left until November 8, law enforcement and officials are alerting to possible violence on Election Day and with reports of intimidation and voting threats to election staff. In Arizona, the Office of the Secretary of State has already referred to law enforcement six reports of potential voter threats and reports of harassment of election staff near ballot lockers. In one case, referred to the Department of Justice and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, an unidentified voter reported that a group of individuals approached and followed him as they tried to return their ballot to an advance ballot box. According to the report, the group accused the voter and his wife, took pictures of the two and their license plates, and exited the parking lot. Two armed men wearing tactical gear were seen at a ballot box in Mesa, Arizona on Friday night, according to Maricopa County officials. The two left the scene when the county sheriff’s office arrived. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Archivist Stephen Richer said in a joint statement, “We are deeply concerned with the safety of individuals who exercise their constitutional right to vote and who legally place an early ballot in the ballot box. I am concerned,” he said. Saturday. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone on Monday accused the two armed individuals of not violating the law but of “passively intimidating others who are trying to vote.” Dozens of Republicans seeking to be elected governor, secretary of state, or U.S. senator in 2022 have joined with former President Donald Trump in baselessly denying or doubting the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, some attempted to reverse the 2020 results. These unfounded allegations of widespread election fraud have prompted a number of new, restrictive voting laws and increased election-related safety concerns. The Ministry of Justice launched a task force last year to respond to the increase in election management threats, and preparations for safety are in full swing for Election Day nationwide. In Colorado, for example, the state’s Vote Without Fear Act prohibits the carrying of firearms within 100 feet of a polling place or ballot box. In Tallahassee, Florida, officials have added Kevlar and bulletproof acrylic shields to the Leon County elections office, said county elections manager Mark Earley. “The Department of Homeland Security is very focused on what we think is an enormously enhanced threat landscape ahead of the November elections,” Samantha Vinograd, deputy secretary of homeland security counterterrorism, threat prevention and law enforcement, said on Monday. She cited conspiracy theories swirling online and the history of American extremist groups for reasons of concern. “I know there is a historical basis for election-related violence,” said Vinograd, a former CNN contributor, speaking at the Homeland Security Enterprise Forum in 2022. “At the same time, anyone who has a Twitter or Facebook account or reads the news knows that countless conspiracy theories continue to spread, with a variety of stories pertaining to false allegations of elections,” she said. Amid the threat, she said the DHS, specifically the Office of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security, is working to protect the election security infrastructure. Meanwhile, the FBI and sheriffs representing the nation’s largest counties discussed the possibility that misinformation could incite violence at polling places during midterm elections, a representative of the Sheriff’s Association told CNN. Last week’s briefing covered how law enforcement can “enforce” near polling places to strike a balance in supporting the security needs of election officials without threatening voters, he said, representing the 113 largest U.S. Major County Sheriffs. Sheriffs of America managing director Megan Noland said: The sheriff’s office of the country. Noland said she recently also discussed having civilians spy on ballot boxes. Former election official Neal Kelley, who announced at the briefing, told CNN that a possible confrontation at the ballot box “will remain for us to see.” The FBI declined to comment on the briefing. Kelley said the FBI has provided an overview of the threat landscape facing election officials. “The whole idea is [sheriffs] Former Chief Election Officer Kelley of Orange County, California, said of the presentation: Big counties often have cooperation between police and elections officials, but small counties often don’t, he said. One idea discussed at the briefing is to give patrol officers a list of election crime codes they can keep in their pockets when responding to Election Day events, Kelley told CNN. “If you call 9-1-1 as a poll worker on Election Day, it’s already too late,” he said. This story was updated on Monday with additional information.

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