Justice Department Issues Election Audit Guidance

The release follows the attorney general’s commitment to voting rights regulations.

The Department of Justice set out new guidelines regarding post-election audits amid a flurry of states passing voting laws after the 2020 election. It warned the states that some of their actions may run afoul of the law.

The new guidelines released by the department follow a commitment from Attorney General Merrick Garland last month to offer states a refresher on legal obligations as DOJ ramps up its enforcement of voting rights statutes.

The guidance on post-election audits could be aimed at an effort underway in Arizona, where the state hired an outside firm with no election experience to review its ballots, prompting concern that ballots were being improperly shared with and handled by the company.

“The department is concerned that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act,” DOJ wrote in the guidance, noting the election officials have record retention requirements.

“Where elections records are no longer under the control of elections officials, this can lead to a significant risk of the records being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed. This risk is exacerbated if the election records are given to private actors who have neither experience nor expertise in handling such records and who are unfamiliar with the obligations imposed by federal law,” it continued.

“Federal law prohibits engaging in actions that are likely to deter voters from voting in the future, and that threat of certain kinds of investigations in the past had been held by federal courts to be potentially intimidating to voters,” a DOJ official stated. The guidance “sets down a market that says the Justice Department is concerned abut this.”

The guidance notes that it is a federal crime to “willfully fail to comply with the retention and preservation requirements” and that anyone found guilty could “face fines of up to $1000 and imprisonment of up to one year for each violation.”

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the Justice Department as they seek to uphold the law.
  • For state officials as they make efforts to protect election integrity.
  • For auditors to comply with all applicable laws.

Sources: The Hill, Wall Street Journal, Buzz-Feed News


Back to top