WASHINGTON ó The Justice Department today announced that on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, it will monitor special elections in Osceola County, Fla., and Randolph County, Ga., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Osceola County, Fla. A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
Osceola County, Fla., has an obligation under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in Spanish as well as in English. The monitors will gather information concerning compliance.
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 itself or by a federal court order. Based on the special coverage provisions, federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling places in Randolph County, Ga.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in Randolph County and will monitor to ensure that the right of voters to participate in the election is not denied on the basis of their race. A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
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. During calendar year 2004, a record 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 106 jurisdictions in 29 states. This compares to the 640 federal observers and 110 Department personnel deployed during the entire 2000 presidential calendar year. In 2006, another record was set for the mid-term elections with more than 800 federal observers and Department personnel sent to monitor polling places in 69 jurisdictions in 22 states on election day. The Departmentís election monitoring program also has been very active in non-federal election years. In calendar year 2005, for example, 640 federal observers and 191 Department personnel were 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 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.