WASHINGTON, D.C. – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Justice Department today announced that on May 17, it will monitor local elections in Cochise County, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Macon, Mississippi; Brentwood Union Free School District in Suffolk County, New York; and Reading, Pennsylvania.
Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the Office of Personnel Management to send federal observers to areas that are specially covered in the Act itself or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in the Brentwood Union Free School District, New York and Reading, Pennsylvania, pursuant to federal court orders entered on July 14 and August 20, 2003, respectively.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in the county. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Civil Rights Division personnel will monitor elections in several municipalities in Cochise County, Arizona; in the City of Los Angeles, California; and in Macon, Mississippi.
In Arizona, California, and New York, each of the monitored jurisdictions has an obligation to provide certain voting materials such as registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots in one or more languages other than English, pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. These requirements also apply to any political subdivision of a covered county, such as a city, if the city conducts elections. Similar requirements also apply to Berks County, Pennsylvania, in conducting elections in Reading, pursuant to a court order in an action brought by the Civil Rights Division to remedy violations of other provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The observers and monitors will gather information concerning compliance in areas such as the quality and availability of minority language assistance at the polls and treatment of minority language voters.
In Macon, Mississippi, monitors will focus on voting and ballot counting procedures, as well as potential voter intimidation.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of observers and attorneys to monitor elections across the country. In 2004, a record of 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 105 jurisdictions in 29 states. This compares to 640 federal observers and 103 Department personnel deployed in 2000.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.