WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act against Long County, Georgia, alleging that the county violated the rights of Hispanic voters. With the complaint, the Department filed a consent decree negotiated with Long County to correct the alleged violations.
"Discriminating against voters is illegal and un-American," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “By quickly agreeing to implement an effective remedial plan, county officials have demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing past problems and protecting the voting rights of all voters.”
Federal law prohibits governments from applying or imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure” which results in a denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race or color. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, charged the county with abridging the rights of Hispanic voters. The county allegedly required numerous challenged Hispanic voters to prove their eligibility, even though the county was aware that the challenges were not supported by any evidence. The complaint further alleges that the county imposed separate and distinct procedures for challenged Hispanic voters than for challenged non-Hispanic voters.
The consent decree, which has been approved by the federal court, requires the county to adopt practices that will ensure future compliance with and remedy past violations of federal law. Specifically, the consent decree requires Long County to train its election officials and poll workers on federal law, to maintain uniform procedures for responding to voter challenges, and to notify Hispanic voters who were challenged that no evidence was presented to support the challenges against them, and that they are free to vote.
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 http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.