Federal election monitors coming to Finney County

Federal poll monitors will be in Finney County on Election Day
Federal poll monitors will be in Finney County on Election Day

FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — The Justice Department announced its Civil Rights Division is sending more than 500 federal poll monitors to communities in 28 different states tomorrow.

Finney County is the only county in Kansas that will see federal election monitors.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “Our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides.”

Finney County Clerk Elsa Ulrich said the Justice Department has been sending Spanish-speaking election monitors to Finney County for the last five years to help protect the rights of the local Hispanic community.

Sister Janice Thome works closely with local Latinos and says elections in Finney County have accommodated Spanish speakers for a long time.

“I’ve been here 20 years,” said Thome, “and the ballots were already bilingual back then and they have somebody at the polling places that speak Spanish.”

KSN has learned that monitors are sent to places where there are concerns about possible violations of federal voting rights laws.

According to the Justice Department, a 1975 amendment to the Voting Rights Act says that ballots, instructions, and other materials must be provided in the minority languages of the local community.

But Sister Janice says the Justice Department should focus its resources on other areas.

“It’s an accepted fact here in Garden City,” she said, “and I’m sure in the future, if we continue our migration and refugee population incoming, we’re going to need other languages as well.”

Federal officials say they want the public’s help identifying possible election fraud and any violations of a person’s voting rights.

The Assistant US Attorney will be answering calls while the polls are open. His number is (913) 551-6730.

The Kansas City FBI field office will also have special agents available. You can call with any complaints at 1-855-527-2847.