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On the lookout for problems at the poll, ballot issues, voter satisfaction

Voters sign polling book in Philadelphia. (AP file photo)

Voters sign polling book in Philadelphia. (AP file photo)

The U.S. Justice Department intends to send monitors Tuesday to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Central Jersey to look out for voter suppression and intimidation.

More than 500 Justice Department staffers are spreading out across 28 states for Election Day. That’s a third fewer than four years ago.

Officials said a Supreme Court ruling that gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act has made it harder to deploy federal monitors, particularly in the South.

Targeted areas include Philadelphia, Lehigh and Allegheny counties in Pennsylvania and Middlesex County, New Jersey. Federal officials didn’t explain why those jurisdictions were selected.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been telling voters that the election will be rigged, saying Pennsylvania could be stolen from him. He’s specifically told supporters to watch out for voter fraud in Philadelphia, though officials say there is no basis for those claims. In New Jersey, officials including Republican Gov. Chris Christie, said they’ve seen no evidence of vote tampering.

Meanwhile, several organizations throughout the region are keeping a watch out for any voting problems or irregularities.

The Philadelphia good government group, The Committee of Seventy, will again conduct its voter experience survey to determine where people had issues with the voting process.

“What the survey is trying to uncover is are folks being inappropriately asked for voter ID? If folks need assistance, is the assistance procedure being offered to them? And is it being administered appropriately?” said Patrick Christmas. “Are folks observing? And how many folks are observing illegal electioneering inside poling places?”

The Electionland project, put together by ProPublica and WNYC, has assembled more than 1,000 journalists and students together for real-time voting issue reporting.

“We got enough partners together to make this data available so we can see in real time where people are having problems,” said John Keefe, one of the organizers. “And then we are reaching out to local reporters to say, ‘Hey, we see this. You might want to go check it out.'”

In New Jersey, the attorney general’s office has mobilized to ensure a smooth-running Election Day.

About 350 deputy attorneys general will be at polling places in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, said Attorney General Christopher Porrino, from the times polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Those attorneys will give legal advice to boards of elections and superintendents on election matters, as well as help county election officials resolved any voter-related legal issues.

They’d handle court applications on behalf of election boards if a voter challenged being on the registration rolls to cast a ballot at a particular voting location, Porrino said.

They would also help determine how to handle any disruption in the proper functioning of voting machines.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has warned of election rigging. But New Jersey officials including Republican Gov. Chris Christie, say they’ve seen no evidence to suggest that.

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The U.S. Justice Department is running a hotline, 800-253-3931, where voters can report unusual activity.

Additionally, New Jersey voters who believe their right to cast a ballot has been interfered with or want to report a voting-related problem can contact 877-NJVOTER.

Voters in Delaware who have issues at the polls, which are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., can call the state Department of Elections at 302-577-3464.

Pennsylvania voters with questions or who encounter issues on Election Day should call the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Polls in the Keystone State are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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