Nearly 40 House Republicans are pressing Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and vote counting in states President Donald Trump’s campaign is contesting.
In a letter to the attorney general, the lawmakers say they understand that states are in charge of voting procedures. However, they noted the federal government has a role in ensuring the process is fair and unbiased.
“While each state runs its own election process, the United States Department of Justice is ultimately responsible for the integrity of federal elections. The American people must have the utmost confidence that the outcome of the presidential election is legitimate,” the letter begins.
The GOP lawmakers go on to note reports of “voting irregularities” make in necessary for the Justice Department to look into the matter.
“With widespread reports of irregularities, particularly in the vote counting process, it is time for you to use the resources of the Department to ensure that the process is conducted in a manner that is fully consistent with state and federal law,” says the letter. “And, it is also important that the process be completely transparent, so that the American people will have full confidence in the result.”
The lawmakers cite the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division Voting Section, whose “responsibility is to ensure that the right to vote is sacred. This not only means access to the ballot box, but it also means ensuring that no one’s vote is devalued by any means of voter fraud,” the letter says.
The lawmakers also appeared to address reports that some GOP poll watchers have been shut out of the vote-counting process, while noting that federal authorities may be needed to ensure court orders allowing access are carried out.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is also available to ensure that judicial orders are carried out. When it comes to a federal election, it should not matter whether those judicial orders come from a state or federal court,” they wrote.
I’ve joined 38 of my colleagues in writing a letter to AG Bill Barr requesting he investigate claims of voter fraud and make sure only all legal votes are counted in this election.
The American people need to have confidence that the outcome of this election is legitimate!! pic.twitter.com/lXHYCU7FFC
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) November 7, 2020
“For example, if a state court orders that observers can watch ballot counting in a federal election, no local election official should be able to defy that order.”
The lawmakers end the letter with questions they want Barr to promptly answer.
“With that in mind, we request an immediate response to the following questions. What are you doing to ensure the integrity of the voting and counting process right now? Will you commit to using all the resources at your disposal to ensure that only legal votes are being counted and being counted in a fully transparent manner immediately?” the lawmakers asked.
The letter comes as the Trump campaign is preparing new legal challenges in several battleground states, alleging voting irregularities and improprieties in violation of state laws.
Also, it comes after GOP poll watchers have had to go to court after they say they were improperly barred from vote-counting facilities in Philadelphia and Detroit, though in at least one case, a court order was not enforced by local authorities.
In August, President Trump said he would send law enforcement and Justice Department lawyers to polling places to ensure voting integrity, which angered Democrats at the time.
But now, nearly a week after polls have closed, there remains a handful of contested races where the president and his campaign are alleging irregularities. And Republicans are anxious for the Justice Department to step in where appropriate.
“We’ve learned how hard fraud is to catch after the fact,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), not a signatory to the Barr letter, told Fox Business Network’s Steve Hilton Saturday.
“There’s a lesson for Republicans here. We have to be far more aggressive as these ballots are coming in because by now ballots have been separated from the envelopes and it’s very difficult to do the ex post facto authentication work that I think would give people confidence in the outcome of the election, so I think we’ve got to be more diligent,” Gaetz added.
“How is it that Project Veritas and the National Pulse and these relatively small media organizations are turning up more evidence than the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice?” Gaetz asked. “That’s our failure. We didn’t get out there and do the work on the front end to ensure that we weren’t in this position.”
Gaetz added that President Trump did his part to “motivate 71 million Americans” to turn out for him.
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