WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced it will send federal observers and Justice Department personnel to 16 jurisdictions in seven states to monitor elections held on November 8 to ensure compliance with various federal voting rights statutes including the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act.
Under the Voting Rights Act, which protects the rights of Americans to participate in the electoral process without discrimination, 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 under the Act.
For eight jurisdictions, federal observer authority comes from court orders, and observers were assigned to another two jurisdictions based on the special coverage provisions.
Federal observers will monitor polling place activities in: San Diego and Ventura counties, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Hamtramck, Michigan; Kings, New York, Suffolk and Westchester counties, New York; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Ector County, Texas.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at select polling locations in the counties. Justice Department personnel will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel, most of whom are attorneys, will monitor elections in:
San Francisco County, California; Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts; Edison, New Jersey; and Queens and Richmond counties, New York.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of observers and attorneys to monitor elections across the country. In 2004, the Department coordinated and sent 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel 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 voting practices, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.