PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Ahead of Election Day, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is expanding its poll monitoring, having personnel from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s office on hand to ensure voters rights are not violated.
In Michigan, officials will be on site in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Southfield and Pontiac.
The Justice Department routinely monitors polling locations in every election, both under Republican and Democratic administrations.
"We welcome it," Pontiac City Clerk Garland Doyle said. "We just want to ensure that all voters will be able to have easy access.”
Doyle says he was notified a few weeks ago and added it’s the first time in recent years the DOJ will be in Pontiac.
“Just to make sure no one is hassled going in and out of the polling location and like I mentioned, we, ourselves, will have location monitors,” Doyle said.
Former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says this practice is nothing new, despite criticism of the announcement circulating on twitter.
“The Justice Department has always sent monitors to polling locations for the last decades,” Schneider said. "This is not an act where a Democratic administration is monitoring an election, this happens in Democratic and Republican administrations.”
Schneider says on top of enforcing voter intimidation laws, monitors also take complaints about things like Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
“It's very hands off," Schneider said. "It’s observing and it’s monitoring and taking complaints.”
In fact in 2020 under the Trump administration, the DOJ had a larger presence in metro Detroit covering Hamtramck, Highland Park, Shelby Township, Eastpointe and Detroit.
Nationally, the DOJ is covering 20 more jurisdictions in 2022 than they did in 2020, spanning 24 states.
“It is a little bit more expanded than it has been in the past but then again, we’ve had more contentious elections here than we have in the past,” Schneider said.
As other states like Arizona have already had complaints of voter harassment, voters in Pontiac welcome the DOJ's help, hoping for a fair and free election in 2022.
"As much support as we can get to support those coming out to exercise their right to vote is definitely a good thing and definitely needs to happen,” Pontiac voter Etonia Williams said.
“As long as you can vote safely without any harassment, it’s a good thing, I'm all for it,” Pryor said.