Justice Department to Monitor Elections in Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Pennsylvania
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, it will monitor elections in Anderson, Ind.; Boston and Springfield, Mass.; Humphreys, Jefferson Davis, Leflore, and Wilkinson Counties, Miss.; and Reading, Pa., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act. 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 for the city general election in Boston and Springfield, Mass., pursuant to federal court orders entered in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Boston and Springfield, Mass., are obligated to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in Spanish as well as in English pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Pursuant to a memorandum of agreement and settlement entered into with the U.S., Boston also must provide such information and assistance in Chinese and Vietnamese.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Anderson, Ind., and Jefferson County, Miss. A Civil Rights Division attorney in each location will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials. In Indiana and Mississippi, federal observers and Department personnel will monitor to ensure that the right of voters to participate in the election is not infringed on account of their race. Federal observers have also been assigned to monitor the general election in Humphreys, Leflore and Wilkinson Counties, Miss., based on the special coverage provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Justice Department personnel will also monitor polling place activities in Reading, Pa. Election information, ballots, and assistance in Spanish are required in Reading, Pa., pursuant to Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act. The observers and Department personnel will gather information concerning compliance.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country. During calendar year 2004, a record 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 106 jurisdictions in 29 states. This compares to the 640 federal observers and 110 Department personnel deployed during the entire 2000 presidential calendar year.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
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