Justice Dept. to send someone to monitor the historic elections in San Juan County

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will send someone to San Juan County to monitor the historic election ordered by a federal judge who found racial gerrymandering against Native Americans.

In a statement on Monday, the agency announced it was deploying members of its Civil Rights Division to 35 communities, including San Juan County.

“The Civil Rights Division will gather information on, among other things, whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit a voter to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter has a disability or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions provide polling locations and voting systems allowing voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act,” the Justice Dept. said in a statement. “Division personnel will also maintain contact with local election officials.”

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox has previously ordered someone to be in San Juan County on Election Day. The ACLU of Utah said it would also be monitoring the election.

A federal judge found San Juan County illegally gerrymandered county commission and school boundaries. Native Americans make up the majority population, but were a political minority. The boundaries were re-drawn and he has ordered new elections this year. (The county is appealing the decision.)

San Juan County has faced numerous lawsuits over its elections. The county has repeatedly insisted it has run fair elections and not discriminated.

“The Dept. of Justice has been monitoring San Juan County’s elections for decades. They’ve never found anything wrong with how we’ve administered our elections,” San Juan Co. Administrator Kelly Pehrson told FOX 13 in a statement. “We are delighted to show them around our beautiful county.”