WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against the North Harris Montgomery Community College District in Texas alleging that the district violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Department simultaneously filed a consent decree resolving the lawsuit against the district.
The Voting Rights Act requires that all voting changes in certain jurisdictions, including those in the state of Texas, be reviewed by the Department of Justice or the District of Columbia federal court prior to their implementation to assure that the changes will not diminish the voting rights of minority citizens. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, charged that the district cancelled its May 13, 2006, election without first obtaining the required approval. That election was cancelled after the Department interposed an objection to the District’s proposal to reduce the number of polling places for the 540,000 voters in the district from 84 to 12.
“It is vitally important that all Americans enjoy the rights they are guaranteed under the Voting Rights Act," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “By promptly agreeing to a new election date, the District has demonstrated a real commitment to addressing past problems and to protecting voters in future elections.”
The consent decree, which still must be approved by a three-judge federal court, requires that the District take the necessary steps to comply with Section 5 in the future. The decree also calls for the District’s cancelled election to be held on Nov. 7, 2006, at all regular polling places.
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.