FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT AGAINST TEXAS COUNTY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Ector County, Texas, alleging violations of the rights of minority-language voters under the Voting Rights Act. The Department simultaneously filed a consent decree resolving the lawsuit against the county.
Section 4(f)(4) of the Voting Rights Act requires that certain jurisdictions with a substantial minority-language voter population must provide all voting materials and assistance in the minority language as well as in English. The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that the county failed to meet its legal responsibilities under section 4(f)(4) to provide effective assistance to Spanish-speaking voters at the polls.
"By promptly agreeing to implement an extensive and effective remedial plan, Ector County officials have demonstrated a real commitment to addressing past problems and protecting the voting rights of their minority-language citizen voters," said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The consent decree with Ector County, which still must be approved by a federal judge, requires that the county implement procedures that will ensure compliance with federal law and permit the Justice Department to monitor future elections.
"The people of Ector County can be proud of their leaders for quickly committing to fix a potential problem. All qualified voters must have the opportunity to vote and today’s agreement will do just that," said Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.
“The issues being addressed in the consent decree will insure all Spanish-speaking voters will have the assistance they need to participate in the elections process. It is our goal to become a model for all Texas counties in conducting elections,” said Jerry D. Caddel, who as Ector County Judge is the chief executive officer of the county.
The Civil Rights Division has launched a major initiative to ensure compliance by each jurisdiction covered under the minority-language provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Since 2002, the Division has brought more lawsuits to enforce the minority-language provisions of the Act than it brought in the preceding 23 years combined.
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 Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm <http://www.usdoj.gov>