The Justice Department announced on Friday that it is launching a task force to investigate the rise in threats against election officials, according to a memo sent to all federal prosecutors and the FBI.
“The Department of Justice has a long history of protecting every American’s right to vote, and will continue to do so. To that end, we must also work tirelessly to protect all election workers — whether they be elected officials, appointed officials, or those who volunteer their time — against the threats they face,” Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, wrote in a memo.
“A threat to any election official, worker, or volunteer is, at the bottom, a threat to democracy. We will promptly and vigorously prosecute offenders to protect the rights of American voters, to punish those who engage in this criminal behavior, and to send the unmistakable message that such conduct will not be tolerated,” Monaco said, “I am confident that you will meet this obligation and investigate all instances of election-related intimidation.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced earlier this month steps that the Department of Justice would use over the next month to protect citizen’s rights to vote, including doubling the staff in the Civil Rights division.
“There are many things that are open to debate in America. But the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow,” Garland said.
Members from the Criminal Division, Civil Rights Division, and the FBI will be part of the new task force. A toll-free hotline has also been set up for people to report election-related threats.