WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced today the filing and successful resolution of a lawsuit against Cochise County, Ariz., alleging violations of the voting rights of language minority citizens under the Voting Rights Act and violations of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
"By quickly agreeing to implement a comprehensive and effective remedial plan, Cochise County officials have demonstrated a genuine commitment to addressing past problems and protecting the voting rights of all American citizens," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The Department filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona alleging that Cochise County failed to meet its legal responsibilities under Section 203 to provide materials and assistance to Spanish-speaking voters at the polls and failed to provide all of the information required by HAVA. A consent decree resolving the lawsuit was simultaneously filed today, which still must be approved by a panel of three federal judges. The decree requires the County to implement procedures that will ensure compliance with federal law and permit the Justice Department to monitor future elections.
"We have an important and proud Hispanic heritage in Cochise County,” said Paul Newman, Cochise County Supervisor, District Two. “The County Board of Supervisors will of course vigorously support efforts by its Elections Department and County Recorder to reach out to Hispanic voters."
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act requires that certain jurisdictions with a substantial language minority citizen voter population provide all voting materials and assistance in the minority language as well as in English. HAVA requires that all jurisdictions provide certain information to voters at the polls during federal elections, including relevant information on voting rights under applicable federal and state laws. The Civil Rights Division has launched a vigorous enforcement effort to ensure compliance by each jurisdiction covered under the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act, as well as compliance with the HAVA. Since 2002, the Division has brought more lawsuits to enforce the minority-language provisions of the Act than it brought in the preceding 26 years combined. This is the fifth lawsuit under HAVA brought by the Civil Rights Division.
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.