“The department’s enforcement policy does not consider a jurisdiction’s re-adoption of prior voting laws or procedures to be presumptively lawful; instead, the department will review a jurisdiction’s changes in voting laws or procedures for compliance with all federal laws regarding elections, as the facts and circumstances warrant,” reads a document released by DOJ.
It proceeds to outline a long list of statutory protections on voting rights, including those surrounding mail-in voting.
The new guidance comes as Arizona audits its 2020 election results and as Congress weighs legislation on the issue.
In a press release, DOJ said: “The guidance document addresses efforts by some states to permanently adopt their COVID-19 pandemic voting modifications, and by other states to bar continued use of those practices, or to impose additional restrictions on voting by mail or early voting, In addition, this guidance document discusses federal statutes the department enforces related to voting by mail, absentee voting and voting in person.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland also warned that DOJ wouldn’t hesitate to act if they saw states violating voting rights.
“The right of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar of our democracy, and the Justice Department will use all of the authorities at its disposal to zealously guard that right,” she said. “The guidances issued today describe certain federal laws that help ensure free, fair and secure elections. Where violations of such laws occur, the Justice Department will not hesitate to act.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division added, “Whether through litigation or the issuance of official guidance, we are using every tool in our arsenal to ensure that all eligible citizens can exercise their right to vote free from intimidation, and have their ballots counted.”