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Election Fairness Monitoring Is High — But Undercut by Voting Rights Act Changes

More than 500 monitors from the Department of Justice (DOJ), along with 300 newsrooms, will oversee today’s elections for voting problems.

DOJ observers are looking for voting rights violations, such as discrimination on the basis of race, language, or disability. Yet, despite the United States hitting a record number of registered voters this year — topping 200 million — the department’s monitor numbers are actually down from 2012, when the DOJ dispatched nearly 800 observers to watch for improper voting barriers. The department cut back on monitors this year as a result of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to weaken the Voting Rights Act, USA Today reported.

Federal observers will, however, receive digital help this year: Representatives from over 300 newsrooms across all 50 states are monitoring social media feeds and Google searches to pinpoint locations where voters are encountering problems, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.