WASHINGTON—The Justice Department today announced that on June 6, 2006, the federal government will monitor primary elections in Hale County, Ala.; Alameda, Orange, San Benito, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura Counties, Calif.; Bergen and Essex Counties, N.J.; Cibola and Sandoval Counties, N.M.; and Bennett, Dewey, Mellette, Shannon, Todd and Ziebach Counties, S.D., 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 or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Hale County, Ala., based on the special coverage provisions. In San Benito, San Diego and Ventura Counties, Calif. and in Cibola and Sandoval Counties, N.M., federal observers will monitor elections pursuant to federal court orders entered in 2004.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these counties. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor the primary elections in Alameda, Orange, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, Calif., and in the New Jersey and South Dakota counties.
Each of the monitored counties except Hale County, Ala., has an obligation to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in one or more minority languages pursuant to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The observers and monitors will gather information concerning compliance. In Hale County, the federal observers will monitor to ensure that the right of voters to participate in the primary election is not denied on the basis of their race.
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. In 2004, a record 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 105 jurisdictions in 29 states. Last year for off-year elections there were 640 federal observers and 191 Department personnel sent to monitor 47 elections in 36 jurisdictions in 14 states.
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 Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.