The Department of Justice issued two documents today: one on federal laws applicable to the kind of outsourced “audit” that Maricopa County, Arizona has been conducting; the other providing “guidance” on various federal laws potentially applicable to the changes in voting rules that many state legislatures are adopting.
Politico and The Hill have reports. The audit document is significant in emphasizing the need for states under federal law to preserve chain-of-custody integrity over their voting records that involve federal elections. The other document is noteworthy in warning states that a return to pre-pandemic voting procedures is not a “safe harbor” immune from DOJ scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act. For example, if the reason for the return to previous procedures was motivated by a racial animus (the goal being to cause lower turnout for racial minorities), that would trigger potential liability under section 2 of the VRA notwithstanding that the same procedures had been used previously.