WASHINGTON — The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the City of Walnut, Calif., alleging violations of the rights of Chinese- and Korean-speaking voters under the Voting Rights Act.
“In filing today’s lawsuit, the Justice Department reaffirms its steadfast commitment to protecting the voting rights and ballot access of all Americans,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “In light of the problems faced by minority language citizen voters in Walnut, we hope that city officials and the Justice Department can reach an agreement quickly to implement important remedial measures that ensure fair access to the ballot box consistent with federal law.”
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 on Election Day in the minority language as well as in English. The government’s complaint alleges that the City of Walnut failed to meet its legal responsibilities under Section 203 to provide materials and assistance to Korean-speaking and Chinese-speaking voters at the polls. The city’s failure to provide such materials and assistance resulted in voters not being able to access the polls or cast an informed ballot.
Today’s action represents the first lawsuit ever filed by the Civil Rights Division on behalf of Korean-American voters. Since 2002, the Division has brought more lawsuits to enforce the language minority provisions of the Act than it brought in the preceding 23 years combined. Under this Administration, the Division also has filed the first cases in its history on behalf of Filipino, Haitian, and Vietnamese American voters. This Administration also has filed a record number of lawsuits to protect the voting rights of Hispanic voters, in addition to lawsuits on behalf of African-American voters.
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.