ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal law enforcement authorities are stepping up their vigilance for any possible civil rights violations related to the Nov. 3 election by establishing an FBI command post and assigning a prosecutor to monitor complaints or threats.
The precautionary effort is unprecedented in recent memory and was announced at a joint news conference Monday attended by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and officials from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office.
The command center will be supervised by FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Langenberg on Election Day and in the succeeding days as votes are tallied.
The process of tallying ballots is likely to take more time than usual in November because of a massive surge in absentee balloting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Langenberg said the announcement aims to instill confidence in the election process. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña will serve as a district election office to oversee civil rights complaints across the state.
Election regulators are bracing for the first U.S. election in over a century to be conducted during a pandemic, which is expected to lead to a massive surge in mail voting.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against mail balloting, which he says without offering proof will lead to widespread voter fraud. For the first time in decades, both parties will be able to closely scrutinize who casts ballots due to a recent court ruling that wiped out tighter restrictions on poll monitoring.
Toulouse Oliver expressed appreciation that federal authorities are putting extra resources toward safeguarding the integrity of the election.
“New Mexicans should be extra vigilant about the election information they encounter, and rely on state and local election officials for trusted information about voting,” Oliver said in a statement.