Attorney General Loretta Lynch and top Justice Department political appointeesare warning that the upcoming federal election will not have enough federal oversight of state election officials. In recent remarks to the League of United Latin American Citizens, Lynch derided the threat to voting rights because the federal government no longer has the power to send hundreds of federal election observers into state polling sites to monitor state and local officials.
In 2013, the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder struck down the 1965 coverage formula that put sixteen states under federal oversight. These oversight powers included the federal power to send swarms of federal observers into state polling locations to monitor state elections. Alaska, New York, and South Dakota were among the states with counties covered by the law.
The Supreme Court ruled in Shelby that the conditions in 1965 were no longer relevant to the extraordinary exercise of federal power over state elections in 2013.
But that hasn’t stopped Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other advocates from stoking paranoia by claiming the right to vote is endangered in the upcoming election without those observers. Reuters even adopted the sky-is-falling approach, presenting three-year-old news as news under the headline U.S. Curtails Federal Election Observers [!!].
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights -- a reliable source for chicken-little quotes about voting -- says the federal observers “play a critical role in protecting voting rights, especially for voters of color and others who have historically been vulnerable to rampant voting discrimination.” Because of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby in 2013, he says, the right to vote is at risk in November without federal observers.