WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that on Sept. 12, 2006, the federal government will monitor primary elections in Cochise County, Ariz. and in Kings, Queens, and Westchester Counties, N.Y., 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 specifically covered by the Act, itself, or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Kings County based on the special coverage provisions and in Westchester County pursuant to a federal court order entered in 2005.
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 Cochise County, Ariz. and Queens County, N.Y.
Each of the monitored counties 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.
Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as department 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. This compares to the 640 federal observers and 103 Department personnel deployed in 2000.
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Departmentís 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.