WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that on May 15, 2007, it will monitor municipal elections in Boston, Mass., and in Philadelphia and Reading, Pa., 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 itself or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities for the elections in Boston and in Reading pursuant to federal court orders entered in 2005 and 2003 respectively.
The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in the city. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Philadelphia. A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
Each of the monitored jurisdictions has an obligation to provide all election information, ballots and voting assistance information in Spanish 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 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.